Qualitative Research Methods In Criminolgy Essay

2108 words - 9 pages

This essay will evaluate the use of in-depth interviews, either one to one or via focus groups as a form of criminological research. The essay will assess how appropriate the chosen methodology can be, issues regarding validity, sampling and research ethics. This essay will also emphasize how these forms of qualitative research can be useful in the field of criminology.

First of all this essay will describe the background and the emergence of qualitative research methods then it will outline some of the general ethics around criminological research. As Meuser and Oschper (2002) define, the labelling approach and critical criminology supported the introduction of qualitative methods in criminological and social research fields. The new approach in criminological research on deviant subcultures was directed by the approach of "Verstehen” or understanding. Researchers focused on exploring, analysing and understanding the abnormal behaviour and delinquent subcultures. The information given during in-depth interviews are in the context of everyday life. The knowledge gained by qualitative methods about the criminal activities can be subjective to the participants` own experiences, but very factual. The role of the researcher is not to label or judge the offenders and their delinquent behaviour, but to gain knowledge and better understanding of the offenders` views, attitudes and behaviour by the interaction with their group. Qualitative research methods can be linked to evaluating race, gender and/or social inequalities. Qualitative research methods linked to the studies of race, gender, etc. can give a greater understanding of delinquency and social inequalities (Meuser and Oschper, 2002).

As Finch and Fafinski (2012) describe, before starting a criminological study the researcher should consider the hypothesis, as the chosen methodology will depend on the questions and answers the researcher is looking for. Then the researcher can choose participants according to the research`s themes. When selecting participants the researcher needs to make sure to follow general ethics about privacy and confidentiality, protect the anonymity of the participants. As Noaks and Wincup (2004) define, researchers need to follow the Data Protection Act 1998, such as use information gained in a sensitive manner, protect the participants’ privacy and confidentiality, etc., the Human Rights Act 1998 also had an impact on social research. Participants also have to sign an informed consent form, with that they acknowledge the use of research, their rights to privacy, confidentiality, anonymity and their right to withdraw from the study. When participants are reassured and fully informed that the researcher will protect their privacy and confidentiality and will only use data according to their study and to support their hypothesis, they can build trust towards the researcher and be honest during the study. For the validity of the study it is important that the researcher...

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