Articles

Entering the Global Field: Talk, Travel and Narrative Practice in Ecuadorian Prisons

Published: 15/06/2016

Prisons in Ecuador represent a globalised field. In this fieldwork confessional I outline my place within this field (characterised by global inequalities), and describe the ways in which I gained entry to the community of foreign nationals. In particular, I focus on the construction of being foreign as a specific membership category, as well as the role of narrative and storytelling in bridging international and social divides, fostering a shared sense of community, and the role of visitors as listeners for inmates' stories. This narrative practice made researching drug trafficking possible, however such stories require careful interpretation to avoid misinterpretation.

Conducting Open Participant Observations of Bouncers - Negotiating (In)visibility in Fieldwork*

Published: 15/06/2016

Conducting research on nightclub bouncers involves fieldwork with actors who have limited interest in having the details of their work become visible to third parties. Conversely, it is the specific interest of ethnography to make the invisible visible. Thus, the research process is a constant negotiation of two potentially conflicting logics of (in)visibility. Furthermore, it is shaped by potential risks and the requirements of ethical codes. Focussing on the study of an inexperienced researcher ‘entering the field’, this article provides insights into the themes of 'risks' and '(in)visibility' and shows how the two were interconnected throughout the whole process of the project, from fieldwork through to writing and publishing. It also shows how the researcher became an overt, but discreet participant observer whose fieldnotes contained intended and unintended blanks. The article suggests that ethnographic data always stays incomplete as the researcher partakes in a balancing act regarding what is revealed and what remains hidden. Intentional blanks help to confirm the researcher’s trustworthiness in the eyes of the research subjects, and so are vital in making such research possible in the first place.

How Biography Influences Research: An Autoethnography

Published: 15/06/2016

Inspired by Professor Yvonne Jewkes’ plenary speech at the 2013 British Society of Criminology conference, this paper focuses on the experiences of a researcher setting out on her journey into the field of criminological research. In the burgeoning tradition of autoethnography, it will tell the story of how aspects of the researcher’s own ‘biography’ affected the data collection process in a study of ‘hidden’ older illegal drug users in the UK. The research employed snowball sampling and semi-structured interviews and at the outset great difficulties were encountered which were caused, in part, by the researcher’s age, nationality, professional standing and cultural awareness. However, as the researcher’s own personal biography developed over the long duration of the study, some of these problems were alleviated. In the process something of the nature of the participants themselves was revealed, namely their reticence to be too revealing to an ‘outsider’ about their illegal pastime, the manner in which their illegal drug use took place in a specific cultural milieu, and the extent to which they saw their drug use as being an unremarkable and normal part of their life. By the conclusion of the study, a by now older, more experienced and acculturated researcher was able to see this with far greater clarity. As criminology increasingly takes account of researcher biography, the argument presented here suggests that not only can it have significant impacts upon the research process, but even over the duration of a single study developments in the biography of the researcher can alter the nature of their relationship with research subjects and contribute to a greater understanding of them.

Book Reviews (14.2)

Published: 15/06/2016

ETHICS & VALUES IN SOCIAL RESEARCH Paul Ransome (2013) Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. pp.200. £23.99 (pbk). ISBN: 0230202217 Paul Ransome’s book represents a critical and throughout effort to stimulate the reader to reflect about how Ethics, Theory, and Values interact and interplay with the wider socio, historical, and political context. This book is very well structured and exhaustive, and with the very much needed intellectual honesty to make the debate both constructive and…

Foreword: Entering the Field and Leaving Intact

Published: 15/06/2016

In July 2013 I was invited to give a plenary talk at the British Society of Criminology conference, the theme of which was ‘Criminology on Trial’. I am honoured that my presentation that day has helped to inspire this special collection of thought-provoking articles written by colleagues at relatively early stages of their careers. In my talk, I decided to put ethnographic fieldwork on trial and I discussed why I think that many established academics do a disservice to new scholars contemplating…

Editorial: Entering the Field of Criminological Research

Published: 15/06/2016

“We are - before we are academics, scholars or researchers - diverse human beings with a vast array of life experiences and complex histories. The emotive processes that stem from these and the theoretical insights they can provide should not be underestimated. My point here is that the ‘self’ is not just who we are, but a living embodiment of how we research, how we theorize and how we come [to] know and tell about our subjects. In this respect, no longer should it be relegated…

Afterword: The Case for Criminological Autoethnography

Published: 15/06/2016

It is with great pleasure and a deep sense of honour that I offer you the following thoughts to close this special edition of the British Journal of Community Justice. In the spirit of autoethnography I offer them to you here in the first person, and it is pleasing to know that I have to make no apology for this - the fact that you have read this far is testament to our shared belief in the place of the self in criminological writing. In some respects, this is a daunting task; how exactly is one…

The Essence of Probation

Published: 15/03/2016

At the 'conversation with Paul Senior' event in January 2016 at Kendal the group had to go back to first principles to test out a basic proposition - whether probation, however it is defined, has a place in 21st century responses to crime and any societal attempts to rehabilitate, reform, reintegrate and/or restore offenders back into communities. If we could agree the core principles of what constitutes 'probation' and also understand and articulate the boundary issues, would most societies driven by human rights and equality of opportunity for all its citizens inevitably seek to create some form of probation? This was the proposition. This has been seen to happen for instance in recent years in Eastern Europe where the limitations of a penal system based just on imprisonment has led to the creation of services in the community akin to probation. Or is an opposite proposition equally possible that there is nothing universal about probation and we are seeing its death knell in the UK? The changes wrought by Transforming Rehabilitation have suggested that the very future of probation is at risk. Commentators have talked about the death knell of probation (Senior, 2014); questions of legitimacy attendant upon privatisation (Deering & Feilzer, 2015); or the most radical change since it was introduced a little over a century ago (Newburn, 2013). This is the core question at the heart of this paper, is there a future for probation and, if so, what defines its essence?

Paul Senior: An Editor Retires

Published: 15/03/2016

Only Paul could pull it off! For some time I had been aware that Paul Senior had been planning to organise an extended ‘conversation’ in his favourite Lakeland hotel for colleagues and friends from his career in probation. I had hinted my enthusiasm to be invited and hoped... A better event it could not have been. Convening in the snowy depths of January 2016, it was a privilege to spend two days relaxed and quality time based in the impressive Georgian Heaves Mansion, now character-full…

Probation Institute: Right Organisation, Right Timing?

Published: 15/03/2016

Thought Piece
'Thought Pieces' are papers which draw on the author's personal knowledge and experience to offer stimulating and thought provoking ideas relevant to the aims of the Journal. The ideas are located in an academic, research, and/or practice context and all papers are peer reviewed. Responses to them should be submitted to the Journal in the normal way.

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