Research Methods Chapter 7
These errors in surveys and experimental studies include variability in response as a result of noncomparability of studies and differences caused by the methodologies employed
For example, telephone surveys may turn up greater victimization than face-to-face interviews
Failure to account for nonrespondents may compromise the results of surveys and nonrespondents may differ considerable from those who cooperate in a survey
refers to a variety of strategies in which the researcher studies a group in its naturals setting by observing its activities and, to varying degrees, participating in its activities
feels that we have been too dependent on studies of imprisoned criminals in an unnatural environment or on unquestioned use of official statistics, and that this has led to an inaccurate view of criminals and criminal behavior
Before one can design a survey or experiment, one must observe the subject of the investigation sufficiently to known the proper areas to probe
Participant as observer
Observer as Participant
(Festinger, Riecken, and Schacter, 1956)
He was able to enter into more sensitive aspects of guard work, particularly after he established his credibility by successfully defending himself against an attack by an inmate
The researcher usually makes his presence known and, although attempting not to influence situtations, tries to objectively observe the activities of the group. (without influencing it)
Observer as participant
Observer as Participant
Observer as Participant
Provided much of what criminologists know regarding “casing” (looking over) of banks and the bank robber’s dependence on uniformity of bank design, as well as handy parking
Observer as Participant
Cost here refers not to financial obligations but to personal involvement.
observer must attempt to operate mentally on two different levels: becoming an insider while remaining an outsider
Researcher must avoid oversocialization, or going native
By the same token, the observer must be able to report patterns of behavior and interrelationships objectively and without moral bias.
The role of “outsider” can be very valuable when subjects share important information.
Informants may be more willing to open up to neutral and reliable outsiders.
The researcher may become fascinated by the lifestyle of the group under investigation.
Criminal subjects may convince the researcher that he or she could be successful as a criminal if they were in the lifestyle (see examples by Polsky and Skolnick).
dangerous in participant observation
Researchers must remain objective despite personal subjective bias.
Researchers, (especially, anthropologists) may find some of the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the societies they study repugnant and immoral. However, they are trained not to judge, but rather, to record the meaning of these behavior to the people who practice them.
Feels that such a posture is going too far, whereas Polsky claims that such a position is necessary to gain a full picture of group activity.
anthropologist who married a cannibal chief and the researchers who unknowingly took on the mannerisms of groups under investigation.
First, the researcher is too far immersed in the culture to maintain objectivity
Second, the members of the group get to know the researcher too well and may often be unwilling to treat him or her as a researcher.
Old rule of thumb holds that one must travel at least 100 miles from home grounds to be regarded as an expert.
Initial participant observation is often exploratory, and presumably the researcher does not fully understand the culture of the group.
Thus, it is necessary take complete notes on as many details as possible, even those that appear trivial, because it may b these very “unimportant details” that later provide the key to some important facet of the study
Detail notes should be kept of everything that occur even events or acts that seem trivial at the time.
The researcher may perceive events unimportant because of his or her lack of familiarity with the culture.
They may later have significant meaning.
Record observations as often as possible — do not rely on memory.
Records should be kept of all participation and observations.
Researchers also suggest that more time should be spent taking quality field notes than time spent in the field.
A technique once used by preliterate societies to orally pass down its traditions (history/culture).
The process allows the researcher to later reconstruct in exact details what transpired.
this can help researchers better manage data
He cut down on this practice and began to leave the notebook open in the detectives offices when he left each evening to show he had nothing to hide.
Later he ceased taking notes on the spot altogether and used the time for relaxed observation to improve rapport.
He also took photographs to improve recall which acted as a second type of field notes.
Also, be aware of the use of tape recorders, videotapes, films, and other mechanical devices. These can help with recall.
Remember, some subjects (deviant/criminal) will not allow the researcher to use such devices in every research investigation.
are another form of photo interviewing in which taking photos gives people a photo voice by later discussing particular needs or problems illustrated by these photos
The use of photography and videography in field studies/ethnographies is not anything new.
It has a long tradition in anthropology and sociology
It is under explored in criminology and is ripe for ethnographic investigations.
to document aspects of the lives of those involved in either deviance or caught in the criminal justice system.
as a pedagogical tool
The researcher is more of an intruder, and the subjects are certainly freer not to cooperate.
In studying criminals on their “turf,” researchers should avoid taking notes on the spot and using standard data-gathering tools such as questionnaires or tape recorders
Initially they should spend their time observing and listening, and avoid asking a lot of questions.
The researcher’s middleclass language and probing may become irritating to subjects.
Before becoming an insider, learn the language of the group under investigation. Avoid overusing it and trying too hard to be an insider
Experts argue that the initial introduction to criminals in the field may be gained by frequenting their haunts (places where people frequently hangout), or sharing either common recreational interest
knowledgeable outsider working with an knowledgeable insider
If access is still lacking, begin with incarcerated offenders.
This can lead to a larger population for the study.
They can put you in contact with others in the craft–see Steffensmeier’s The Fence and Sam Goodman.
2. Establish yourself and your research
3. Little things count, such as being on time and showing up when it is convenient for them, not you
4. Make sense of agency data by keeping in contact
5. Deliver competent, readable reports on time
6. Request to brief the agency, and give a formal presentation of your findings
7. Write apersonal thank-you note to everyone involved
8. Deal with adversity by planning ahead
9. Inform the agency of data use including providing copies of publication
10. Maintain trust by staying in for the long haul and keep in contact
Since that time, gaining entry into correctional environments has become complicated.
State approval boards
Human subject consent
Institutional research boards
Institutional review boards
*(Scholars suggest that researchers should propose ways to help administrators with practical problems in their prisons)
essential to the research since they often hold the key to the researcher gaining entry into the social world of those to be researched.
2. You have an introduction into at least some groups on the scene. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. A straight outsider is often a “mark” just waiting for a disaster to occur. An intro from a trusted insider immediately establishes an openness together with certain rights and obligations as so-and-so’s friend.
Most subjects will accept the simple explanation that the researcher is writing on book on the subject
This allows the researcher not to pretend to be one of them.
Most subjects will accept the explanation that the researcher is writing a book on the subject matter
Researchers often rely on snowball sampling.
Experts encourage field researchers to be “up-front” about their intended purpose in the field.
would entail that the researcher permit the subjects to study him or her by answering questions they may ask.
Protect the subjects’ identity by using pseudonyms to hide the names of subjects. For example, Sutherland relied on Chic Conwell in his research on The Professional Thief.
To protect subjects, some researchers have promised not to reveal their identity unless faced with the prospect of going to jail (see Klockars, 1977).
the Iannis’ Lupollo organized crime family
Klockar’s professional fence Vincent Swaggi
For instance, he wore short-sleeved shirts and an expensive watch in studying heroin use and trafficking, signaling that he was not a user since an addict would have track marks from shooting up and would have sold many items of value in order to support his or her habit
2. Data gathered by direct observation where we were not direct participants
3. Interviews that can be checked out against documented sources, for example, records of arrest or business ownership
4. Data corroborated by more than one informant
5. Lowest priority is assigned to data gathered from only one source. In addition, informants were graded from “always reliable” to “unreliable”
1. The interview format provided a cross-check: Did the second, third, and fourth interviews all say the same thing? Some interviews were also tape recoreded, and some were checked by Sam Goodman (the subject) himself
2. Documents such as newspapers, personal documents, court records, letters, sales receipts, advertising, and the like were examined
3. Observations of Sam at work were supplemented with interviews and meetings with customers, friends, and dealers
4. Consulation took place with police and legal officials
5. The data were consisten with biographies and autobiogrpahies of thieves
This involves having participants check your report to see if you are misinterpreting or misunderstanding anything
to test whether he was an informant, they committed illegal acts to see if he would turn them in to authorities. He was on one occasion falsely accused and physically attacked.
The second test involved what other gang observers called a “beat down” or initiation rite. He would have to determine how tough he was when other members would start a fight with him.
Such sites facilitate the collection of longitudinal data from fairly large samples and enhance the researcher’s legitimacy in the neighborhood.
Such an approach generally produces less prejudgments, is less disturbing to respondents than experiments, and is more flexible and natural than more artificial means of data gathering.
Contradictions between attitudes and behaviors become apparent
Being on the scene, the researcher can double-check assumptions regarding the meaning of observations.
Allows for a full-picture of criminal behavior that contains the offender’s perspective
The method is a theory generating technique
After the research is completed, one must put forward a theory explaining with transpired and what is found in the subculture
overidentification or dislike of the group being studied can be problematic
poses the problem of gaining entry into and acceptance by a group. Perhaps the most personally demanding technique
The observer is often not in a position to control the actions of others and consequently, he or she will have to wait for something/anything to occur (could be a boring process)
ethical dilemmas are sometimes raised by this technique, particularly if uncaught criminals are the subject of study.
Researchers must control their biases which could influence how they observe, record, and interpret
major challenge is the fact that it generally yields nonquantitative data and thus may require greater literacy and analytic skill at the write-up stage
There is no way to replicate or repeat the field experience
Physical environments change for a number of reasons such as gentrification, deterioration, rebuilding)
The use of pseudonyms (of the subjects who actually participated in the study)
People may eventually leave the scene (e.g. relocate to other areas, get incarcerated, seek treatment/ intervention, leave the lifestyle, or die).
Some argue that such decisions should be made prior to the investigation
Deception is often necessary to collect these data
They are in-depth, qualitative studies of one or a few illustrative cases.
Nearly every aspects of the subject’s life is examined for patterns and causes of behavior.
They can be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory.
While using this method, the researchers attention is centered on an in-depth examination of one or a few cases on, many dimensions.
While quantitative approaches aim to provide a more-macro-criminological view or big picture of the subject matter, these methods provide a micro-criminological or in depth close up of one or only a few cases
They can include general field studies
They can also be a study of a crime commission.
The process may include videotaping prominent criminologists and criminal justicians
Research can be used to test theories, generate hypotheses for the future, as well as sensitize researchers to important questions
The researcher interviews and gathers documentary materials about someone’s life, usually someone who is older
The researcher asks open-ended questions to capture how the person understands his or her own past.
The main purpose is to get at how the respondent sees/remembers the past, not just some kind of objective truth
A grid can even be used in the process which may consist of occupation, education, family events, or ten different ages of the person.
It can be considered a subtype of oral history
major advantage is its in-depth, qualitative view of a few subjects
major problems associated with such methods are possible researcher bias and a typicality of the cases chosen for analysis
Case studies may be conducted in almost any type of social environment
The flexibility of case studies may be extended to virtually any dimension of the topics studied
Case studies may be inexpensive, depending on the extent of inquiry involved and the type of data collection technique used
They have limited generalizability.
Researcher’s bias and the type of case selected for analysis (Casey Anthony, PSU-child sex scandal, Ferguson riots)
In it, he noted that relying on group designs (nomothetic) to measure the success of crime control program blurs the individual cases of success or failure by using average achievement scores.
more natural settings
sensitizing, qualitative nature of such studies
problems of gaining acceptance, maintaining objectivity, facing ethical dilemmas, avoiding oversocialization or aversion, and the nonquantitative nature of such information
represents a commitment to more inductive or sensitizing strategy.
(1). Observations capture the natural social context where person’s behavior occurs.
(2). Observations grasp significant events or occurrences that might influence the social interactions of participants.
(3). Observations determine what makes up reality from the world views, the outlooks, and philosophies of those being observed.
(4). Observations identify regularities and recurrences in social life by comparing and contrasting data obtained in one study with those obtained in studies of other natural settings.
(2). To provide more graphic descriptions of social life than can be acquired in other ways.
(3). To learn in an exploratory sense, those things that should receive more attention by researchers
The city was influenced by rapid industrialization, mass immigration, migration, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the effects of WWI.
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