methods in context

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Domestic violence

- Carried out in private, participant observation is not possible.

- under-reported and under-recorded- crime stats lack validity.

-Victims+offenders may be hard to access- difficult to create a sampling frame from which a representative sample can be created. Actually finding victims or offenders to take part could be difficult.

- V. sensitive. Unstructured interviews- build up a rapport and put the respondent at ease- subject matter still deeply traumatic.

-Confidentiality is essential given the vulnerability of the victim.

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Violent crime

-Relies heavily on victims memory- could reduce validity.

-violence tends to be spontaneous- observation difficult or time consuming.

-Researching violent gangs could be difficult: covert PO has problems of ethics, risk to researcher, maintaining covert role and fitting in.

-offenders of violence may be unwilling to co-operate with researcher.

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Corporate crime

-under reported by the media as it's hidden away from view. Under-reported and difficult to define so crime statistics are likely to lack validity.

-Very complex, involving organisations often in more than one country- time consuming and expensive. Difficult to establish who is to blame, and to identify victims.

-Access is difficult as corporate crime is carried out by those in positions of power who will ensure their actions aren't defined as criminal.

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Young offenders

-Often have lower levels of literacy due to truancy from and underachievement at school. Q'aires and interviews need to be carefully instructed.

-May use slang the researcher doesn't understand.

-May see the researcher as 'police in disguise' especially in an interview setting- take time to build up trust. Could also be a problem with overt PO.

-Sampling frames can be difficult. They will not be found on the register of elector due to their age.

-Risk of the researcher learning 'guilty knowledge' which creates an ethical dilemma: to pass it on and breach the respondent's confidentiality or trust or to withhold the info and risk a serious consequence. Particular issue given the vulnerability of young people.

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Victims of crime

-often there is no clear victim e.g drug dealing.

-the victim may have started the offence against them e.g a violent partner attacked in self defence

-victims of corporate crime may be unaware they are a victim.

-some people may be reluctant to see themselves as victimss- the term implies some level of weakness.

-many victims are hidden- domestic violence or child abuse

-victms are vulnerable and the experience is traumatic. Unstructured interviews may be a good way of putting victims at ease.

-relies heavily on victims memory- may produce data lacking in validity as info could be exaggerated or withheld.

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Societal reaction

-plenty of media reports available-time consuming to go through them all.

-media reports are distorted by the values of the owners of the media. Difficult to understamd exactly how news events are processed and created.

-people may not be aware that their fears of crime have been created by the media; may have been influenced by real-life experiences.

-researcher may interpret the meaning of a media report differently to the audience.

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Suicide

-main problem: victim not around  for interviews/q'aires, although survivors of suicide attempts could be interviewed.

-Extremely sensitive and traumatic topic- rapport must be created.

-Personal documents such as diaries and letters could be difficult to access, and may be unrepresentative. There are documents available from a coroners court which could show why the death was recorded as a suicide.

-official statisticsof suicide may lack validity and reliability as they are simply the number of deaths recorded as suicide. However, they present no ethical concerns and are easy to access.

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Criminal justice system

Police
-accessible at a police station- spend much time away from it. Parts of the police station may be hard to access. Access to senior officers- especially difficult.
-may view the researcher as an 'outsider' and not cooperate-overt PO or interviews difficult. Covert PO difficult as researcher isn't a police officer
-used to paper work so may be willing to fill out a q'aire- time constraints may prevent this or interviews.

Courts
-access is possible-some areas are out of bounds e.g jury room. Jurors can't be questioned about the discussions in the jury room.
- legal terminolgy may be difficult for researchers not trained up in law.
-Documents such as media reports may be available.

Prisons
-Access v. difficult. Covert PO nearly impossible. Safety of researcher during interviews.
-offenders may be easy to locate, but unavailable due police enquiries etc.
-Prisoners may pass on guilty knowledge- ethical issue for researcher. Also likely to have lower levels of literacy- q'aires+interviews need to be carefully planned.

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