The third edition retains a strong focus on the historical and disciplinary foundations of focus group research while providing new and updated content that reflects the evolving use of focus groups. The new edition demonstrates the growing maturity of focus group research and the new domains of research questions and methodology it addresses. The current edition focuses on two of these new domains. The first is the growing use of focus group research to address an increasingly broad array of issues that have a global span. Focus group research is now used with rural farmers on the Indian subcontinent, gang members in south central Los Angeles, parents who home school their children, and individuals suffering from various physical ailments, to name but a few. Focus group research has certainly extended its reach beyond marketing research applications focused on relatively affluent consumers. This edition of the book greatly expands the treatment of the use of focus groups in an international context and with special populations, such as children and individuals with special needs.
The second major change in focus group research is the growing use of virtual groups. The internet has brought with it a rich array of tools and technologies for conducting focus groups with participating individuals who are separated considerably by time and space. First used as necessary, if inferior, substitutes for physical groups, virtual focus groups are now proving to have very unique advantages of their own. The new edition discusses different types of virtual groups and the issues that arise in recruiting and conducting such groups.
The third edition also includes new and updated source materials and provides new information about procedural details, such as the role of Institutional Review Board approval, the identification of research sites, the recruiting of participants, and the development of the interview guide. The treatment of the role of the moderator and the conduct of focus groups has also been expanded. The chapter on analysis of focus group data now includes an updated and enhanced discussion of software tools.