Join us at our first Lunchtime Seminar this October. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the online link.
Octobers Seminar – 12:00-13:00 on 27th October
Ethnographic research with offenders has become increasingly difficult to carry out in the UK and internationally. Requirements of institutional review boards (IRB) are stringent. Research that involves fieldwork in high-risk settings is often turned down, which in effect silences the voices of vulnerable and marginalised populations within them. Furthermore, witnessing and recording crimes that are not known to the police is risky and could put the researcher in a position where they are legally obligated to give up the information. Ethnography with criminals may also require elements of covert observation in order to be successful and protect the safety of both the researcher and the researched. Covert research is especially difficult to get approved and is frowned upon for being deceptive. It can, however, benefit participants by illuminating hidden injustices, whilst leading to proposals for progressive policy change. This talk draws upon data from a 5-year semi-covert ethnography of the illicit drug trade in a city in England. It outlines the ethical and methodological challenges of conducting ethnographic research on hard-to-reach criminal groups.