Skip to main content
SearchLogin or Signup

Review 2 of "Entering without breaking: Challenges and strategies of the qualitative criminologist investigating carceral spaces"

...Qualitaitve...Criminology

Published onJan 12, 2022
Review 2 of "Entering without breaking: Challenges and strategies of the qualitative criminologist investigating carceral spaces"

Vote: Publish pending minor changes


[For votes to count, referees must reasonably explain why they voted as they did. Thus, please explain your vote. If you voted to publish pending minor changes, specify each change, why it is needed, and, possibly, how it should/could be done.]

This article presents a very significant topic, which is of major relevance for researchers conducting qualitative studies in confinement settings. The article discusses the challenges and strategies of conducting qualitative research in carceral spaces by presenting the author’s own experience in these settings. The article is very well structured and presents valid/essential arguments throughout.

However,

A) The article would benefit of including a greater dialogue with academic literature in this field. Some oldies but goodies, and other more recent literature can be used to solidify the author’s point of view

Please see a list of important contributions that could improve the quality of the article:

Becker, H (1967) Whose side are we on? Social Problems 14(3): 239–247.

Beyens, K, Kennes, P, Snacken, S, Tournel, H (2015) The craft of doing qualitative research in prisons. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 4(1): 66–78.

Bucerius, S (2013) Becoming a ‘trusted outsider’: Gender, ethnicity, and inequality in ethnographic research. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 42(6): 690 –721.

Chwang, E (2010) Against risk–benefit review of prisoner research. Bioethics 24(1): 14–22.

CUNHA, Manuela I., 2014a, “The ethnography of prisons and penal confinement”, The Annual Review of Anthropology, 43: 217-233.

Drake, DH, Harvey, J (2014) Performing the role of ethnographer: Processing and managing the emotional dimensions of prison research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 17(5): 489–501.

Earle, R (2014) Insider and out: Making sense of a prison experience and a research experience. Qualitative Inquiry 20(4): 404–413.

Fassin, D (2017) Prison Worlds – An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gomes S, Duarte V. What about ethics? Developing qualitative research in confinement settings. European Journal of Criminology. 2020;17(4):461-479.

Gomes, S, Granja, R (2018) (Dis)trusted outsiders: Conducting ethnographic research on prison settings. Etnográfica 25(1): 5-22.

Liebling, A (2001) Whose side are we on? Theory, practice, and allegiances in prisons research. British Journal of Criminology 41: 472–484.

Nielsen, MM (2010) Pains and possibilities in prison: On the use of emotions and positioning in ethnographic research. Acta Sociologica 53(4): 307–321.

Roberts, LO, Indermaur, D (2003) Signed consent forms in criminological research: Protection for researchers and ethics committees but a threat to research participants? Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 10(2): 289–299.

Rowe, A (2014) Situating the self in prison research: Power, identity, and epistemology. Qualitative Inquiry 20(4): 404–416

I am not suggesting that the author read all these references and include them all in the article. Nonetheless, I would advise the author to go through some of these references and articulate them with several arguments made in the article.

For example, the author says, “(…) in order to avoid widening the gap between the researcher and the professionals in the environment, it can be preferable to identify oneself as a “research student”.” However, other references might be important to debate the author’s positionality in confinement settings and the access to information, as other arguments exist in the literature. See, for example, this article:

Gomes, S, Granja, R (2018) (Dis)trusted outsiders: Conducting ethnographic research on prison settings. Etnográfica 25(1): 5-22.

B) Also, in some parts of the article, the inclusion of references would provide clarity to the author’s statements.

For example, when the author says, “In recent years, geography has been appropriating this concept and considerably broadening our understanding of it (on this subject, see the work of Dominique Moran). Can the author provide some references of Moran’s work?

Then, the author says, “Taking inspiration from concepts and theories at the intersection of geography, criminology and the sociology of prison, carceral geography encourages us to go beyond a traditionally temporal analysis of prison and of the experiences within it, in order to also conceive of it as a spatial punishment; to get away from a rigid approach to prison, restricted to its interior and its internal dynamics; and finally to understand the carceral in all its complexity by taking into consideration the extension of the penal project beyond the walls of

correctional institutions.”. Can the author provide important references for each one of these premises?

C) Besides, the author argues that emotional challenges/components of the research in carceral spaces are presented in the article, but these are actually absent for the most part of the article. I would suggest the author to incorporate this debate, as there are several parts of the article when this can be included (such as the field notes provided at the end of section 2 of the article), or leave it out of the aims of this publication.

D) Finally, the author mentions, “In 2002, Wacquant (p. 385) observed that there was an eclipse in ethnography in carceral environments. In his view, this was “not merely an endangered species but a virtually extinct one”, just when the problems inside were increasing.” This perspective was deconstructed in the light of other ethnographic work that was actually being conducted elsewhere in the world, which relativizes the 'American eclipse' proposed by Wacquant. Please see the following reference for clarification:

CUNHA, Manuela I., 2014a, “The ethnography of prisons and penal confinement”, The Annual Review of Anthropology, 43: 217-233.

These are the aspects that I believe needs to be revised in this publication. I would like to congratulate the author for providing such an interesting reflection, which resonates so much with my own experience in conducting research in confinement setting elsewhere in the world. It was a pleasure reading it. Thank you.

Comments
0
comment

No comments here

Why not start the discussion?