Why Have Differing Research Methods In Criminology


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Why Have Differing Research Methods In Criminology

  1. 1. Why have differing research methods in criminology?
  2. 2. <ul><li>These slides explain the philosophy behind the different research methods used by sociologists. </li></ul><ul><li>It doesn’t explain the practical reasons as you studied this at AS and will be familiar with all the reasoning, though we will touch on it again during your lessons </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why have differing research methods in criminology? <ul><li>Durkheim’s tradition and its concern with the social bases of crime became tied up with the use of official statistics to measure the extent of crime and other deviant acts </li></ul><ul><li>Durkheim’s classic work on suicide is based on the assumption that official statistics provide the best measure of crime levels </li></ul><ul><li>The justification in using statistical data arises from the idea that most social problems are best understood through the ‘positive application of science’ – known as positivism </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Merton’s work on anomie and crime starts from the assumption that official statistics provide the best form of measurement </li></ul><ul><li>However since Durkheim and Merton’s ideas dominated there has been theoretical and methodological disputes as to whether official statistics were the best tool in measuring crime </li></ul><ul><li>Yet the quantitative tradition remains strong for example it’s used in all criminological research </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Quantitative research is associated with research which seeks to explain crime in causal terms – for example in seeking to relate changes in the crime rate to changes in other features such as levels of unemployment </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitative methods include questionnaire surveys, secondary analysis of official statistics </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>In contrast the qualitative tradition is typically associates with ethnography, in other words the description (graphy) of cultures (ethno) </li></ul><ul><li>Its methodological approach seeks to capture the ways in which individuals and categories of individuals make sense of the world and how subsequent actions arise from such interpretations </li></ul><ul><li>So it’s based on a commitment to explanation-by-understanding rather than explanation in causal terms and so the world is seen as socially constructed </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>This concept of ‘understanding’ comes from the theories of first Weber which were further developed by Mead and his concept of the ‘self’ </li></ul><ul><li>Blumer extended Meads concept of the ‘self’ by coming up with the phrase ‘symbolic interactionism’ – the ‘meanings’ people give as to their conduct and interpretation of that conduct or reasons </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Labelling and interactionist approaches which emerged in the 1960s placed a lot of emphasis to social meanings, stereotyping and their role in the labelling process (Becker) </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative researchers methodologies include interviews, observations and the interpretation of documents such as personal diaries </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Both quantitative and qualitative research methods rely on collecting empirical data </li></ul><ul><li>Empirical data is the physical of evidence by any research method </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist research methods tend be known as ‘critical methodologies’ because they tend to use methods that examine power and discourses within the criminal justice system – think of Heidensohn and how she researched female oppression by examining discourses constructing ‘social roles’ of femininity </li></ul>