Qualitative Methods for Studying Group Communication

Michael W. Kramer, Alaina C. Zanin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter summarizes many conceptual, theoretical, and methodological topics related to studying group communication using qualitative research methods. First, it explains five of the most common theoretical frameworks used by group communication scholars (i.e., symbolic convergence theory, bona fide group perspective, unobtrusive control theory, dialectical theory, and structuration theory). Next, it discusses best practices and issues related to different data collection methods including observations, historical case studies, ethnographies, focus groups, and interview studies. Then, the chapter describes two primary data analytic tools, various iterations of constant comparison method, and qualitative content analysis. Finally, the chapter describes several innovative qualitative methods that may lead to new understandings of group communication processes including discourse analysis and discourse tracing, as well as new approaches to collecting qualitative network data and mediated data. The chapter concludes with a discussion of future research suggestions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Emerald Handbook of Group and Team Communication Research
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781800435001
ISBN (Print)9781800435018
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Constant comparison method
  • Content analysis
  • Ethnography
  • Focus groups
  • Interviewing
  • Observation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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