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Doing Research on Crime and Justice Paperback – 25 Oct 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 556 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (25 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199287627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199287628
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 2.5 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review from previous edition There are 20 contributors to this volume, the great majority of whom are internationally respected academic figures with a wealth of expertise in diverse areas of interest (Forensic Update 64)

It is rare to find such seriously dedicated social scientists who have written so expressively about their research experiences (ibid)

In terms of quality of content and affordability, this is a book which feel confident in recommending to social reserachers embarking upon criminological investigation (ibid)

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TEXTBOOK --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By lauren on 29 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because the book was in better condition than the description. It looked brand new, I didn't notice any of the dents and folded corners that were mentioned in the description. I was also very pleased with how quickly I received the book. :)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Speedy delivery of the Book.
I found this book essential reading whilst carrying out research on crime and justice as part of the Criminology module of my LLB(Hons) law degree.
It was obviously of some help as I passed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
How To Do Prison Research Time And Again 29 Jan. 2006
By Robert A. Williams - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gaining entry into prisons to do research is always governed by a "gatekeeper". The gatekeeper's role is to make sure that the researcher can be trusted not to dig up the muck of what is really happening, but to pass on the presentation of front-stage behaviour. A researcher who wishes to return to prisons for future research had better play to this tune and not dig up the muck, or else that researcher will be barred from doing further research behind bars.

Roy David King, Professor of Criminology at the University of Wales in Bangor (formerly University College of North Wales), learned this lesson early in his career. In Chapter 10, titled "Doing Research in Prisons", pp 285-312, King tells us that when he and Elliott wrote "Albany: Birth of Prison - End of an Era", published in 1978, "it contained a strong critique of dispersal policy, and for several years thereafter I was not able to regain access to high security prisons". He had been barred from doing more prisons research. The gatekeeper had closed the gate.

King was able to persuade the British authorities to give him another chance by first going to America in 1983 and doing prisons research there. In 1984, King was permitted to do research behind bars in England again. His trustworthiness with the Prisons Service and the Home Office grew while King researched and published for the next 12 years. Then in 1997, an incident involving one of his post-graduate students who was doing covert and later overt participant observation in prisons in the Midlands without signing the Official Secrets Act, saw King drop that student without explanation while the prison "gate-keeper" said of the student researcher - "I don't want him here". (Another supervisor was found for the student researcher so he could write-up his findings.)

These events no doubt necessitated the writing of this book - "Doing Research on Crime and Justice" and King's chapter - "Doing Research in Prisons", which comes across as an apologia to prison officials and Home Office authorities. While King acknowledges "there have been some criminologists who regard almost everything done with Home Office funding or approval as necessarily tainted", he later goes on to say "but this does not mean that one automatically buys in to an offical agenda". But that's exactly what it means.

In the subsection "Gaining Access" is another sub-subsection titled "Access for Research Students", where King states it is "to be arranged through direct contact with the prison governor concerned, whose approval will in any case be needed before research can be carried out". This statement no doubt would have been reassuring to the prison governor of the Midlands prison who had no idea that King's research student was doing covert particpant observation in 1997. The reason that the student researcher decided to do his research covertly is explained later in King's chapter - "there is a reasonable chance of a researcher being granted access providing the topic of research is not too currently controversial". The student researcher was studying the privatisation of prison schooling, which was a controversial topic and therefore proceeded covertly in gaining access and in doing his ethnographic research.

In defending the government's gatekeeping practices, King takes aim in his chapter at colleague John McVicar at City University in London because McVicar has stated that King's research is a classic example of "how not to conduct prison research". But in King's defence, he has a long history of many studies behind bars, while McVicar has not produced anything for some time now.

The other 18 chapters in this book are written by some notable British heavyweights in the field of criminal justice: Anthony Bottoms, Rod Morgan, Mike MacGuire, John Baldwin, Dick Hobbs and Robert Reiner. The remaining chapters are written by lesser-known lecturers or professors at the former polytechs.

In conclusion, this is a useful guide to doing research behind bars with the approval of prison authorities. But if you want to know what's really happening behind bars, if you want want to get behind the front-stage behaviour, then read something more useful such as Jack Douglas's "Investigative Social Research". And if you're a student-researcher, you might want to do your research in two roles - one overt for your university supervisors and prison officals, and another covert for after you have achieved your PhD and can later write a genuine ethnography of prisons. You might not be permitted to do more research behing bars, so make sure you dig deeply on the first try. The result will be an invaluable contribution useful to prison reformers, ethnographers, and social scientists.
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