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Methods in context
It mainly takes place in private making it difficult to study (few opportunities for observation
and interview data is difficult to conduct)
Official statistics represent a huge dark figure of crime, as do victimisation studies. (Dobash
and Dobash found that out of 32,000 assaults only 517 were reported to the police.
Records may be unrepresentative and therefore not generalizable.
There are few sampling frames for domestic violence (details are often confidential and not
open to researchers)
The traumatic nature raises ethical concerns, it could be psychologically harmful and
jeopardise their safety if the perpetrator of the violence becomes involved.
The victim is likely to be in a state of denial, trust needs to be built which it time consuming
and costly. The researcher needs to be trained to be empathetic which again raises cost and
Methods need to be flexible to allow the victim to detail personal accounts of their
Confidentiality may be an issue; information may need to be divulged to the police if the
victim is at serious risk.
Researching Violent Crimes
Violent acts by their nature are unexpected and there are few observational opportunities.
(may have to wait a long time-higher cost and time)
A researcher could undertake covert participation in a subculture/gang whose activities
The researcher may `go native' and become wrapped up in violent acts.
They may jeopardise safety if they are discovered, or if people are suspicious generate the
Often research has to retrospective (after the event), victims may be reluctant to be
interviewed, they may be scared, ashamed, etc.
The perpetrator may be defensive and reluctant to cooperate.
Ethical issues of what to do with findings they may discover something that could help
prevent violent acts in the future-do they give it to the police?
Researching Corporate Crime
Low level corporate crime is likely to be deemed more sociology acceptable so less
likely to be reported to the police (no stats or sampling frame)
Corporate crime is more complex than other types of crime so it is difficult to sociologists
to investigate, some is international and studying it may go beyond the sociologist's
Corporate crime also has a diffusion of responsibility and tracking it may involve
researching numerous individuals.
There is also a diffusion of impact, so it's difficult to track victims.
Unlike street crime those committing corporate crime are likely to be powerful and have
The way crime is defined tends to exclude corporate crime, so often aren't in stats.
Researching Young Offenders.
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Many delinquent youths have lower literacy, communication and understanding skills, as
many underachieve at schools. They may unable to answer questionnaires.
Their underachievement may encourage hostility to authority figures that they transfer
to the researcher.
Members of youth subcultures may use street slang making communication difficult (may
have to learn this-time consuming!)
The risk of violence is an ethical safety issue.
Creating samples can be difficult for confidentiality and youth protection issues, most
researchers will use court records, schools lists or snowball sampling.…read more
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Often time consuming and doesn't reveal much simply a series of legal squabbles.
The power and status of the legal profession may make lawyer unwilling to be
Large amounts of public data readily available.
Prisons are generally among the most closed and controlled social settings,
particularly those who commit serious crimes.
Open prisons where crimes are more minor allow researchers to have access.
Research may have to be overt due to the lack of roles for them to play.…read more