Methods of Criminological Research

Methods of Criminological Research

Methods of Criminological Research

Methods of Criminological Research

Synopsis

Examining the different ways in which data can be collected and analyzed for research on crime and criminal justice, this book deals with social surveys, experimental methods, official statistics, observation and detailed interviews. This practical text includes sections on: * methods of criminological research * types of data * measuring and explaining crime * studying the criminal justice system * gaining access * publishing results. Throughout, it emphasizes the necessity of examining forms of data collection and analysis within the context of the criminological problems being investigated, the theoretical approaches used to address these problems, and the political and institutional contexts within which research takes place.

Excerpt

A number of ideas influenced this book, particularly ideas which have developed during several years of teaching methods of social research to social science undergraduates and postgraduates. It is important that students learn about the technicalities of research design, data collection and analysis. However, such technicalities are too often treated as if they are hermetically sealed from other crucial aspects of social science. In particular, ‘methods’ have become separated from the problems they address, from the theoretical frameworks which open up particular aspects of these problems for investigation, and for the institutional and political contexts within which social research is conducted. Such separations invariably ensure that a consideration of matters of method become meaningless to students. In my experience, part of the problem lies with those who teach social science theories. In the main they have steadfastly refused to consider the relationships between theory and method or to recognize that social science has progressed not by theory alone but via the fruitful and innovative connections which have been made between theorizing and empirical inquiry. Equally, those of us who have taught students about matters of method have often failed to make the connections ourselves with the result that courses in social science research methods have been greeted with glazed looks on the faces of our students and with disbelief that such matters of methods are presented as if they are divorced from other courses of study and, perhaps more importantly, divorced from the realities of everyday life.

This book represents an attempt to look at matters of method in the context of specific social science problems—those relating to the study of crime and of the criminal justice system—and by taking account of, first, connections which are made with theories of particular kinds and, secondly, the influences and constraints of institutional and political contexts. In emphasizing the constellations of politics, problems, theories and methods it has been necessary to reduce the amount of space which could be devoted to the specifics of particular criminological theories, particular disciplinary contributions and particular methods of empirical inquiry. This has been done in the safe knowledge that there are specialized textbooks available which deal with these matters. Crime and criminology are appropriate contexts within which to examine methods of social inquiry because of the plurality of theoretical contributions which abound and because of the variety of institutional contexts within

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