Chapter 4 Review questions answer guidance


1. What do you understand by the term ‘subjectivity’ and can you provide examples of such?

In criminological terms, subjectivity refers to the personal opinions, preferences, experiences, perspectives, and agendas of knowledge producers. Subjectivity can be external, external-internal, and internal, referring to the sources that influence the development of our subjectivity.

External: Our views, preferences and interests can be shaped by, for example, our lecturers, the writers we read, the media (e.g. the labelling of young Muslim men as potential terrorists), popular views, and political rhetoric. 

External-Internal: Our views, preferences and interests are also influenced by our demographic characteristics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, class, cultural background, religious orientation, sexuality, disability, and locality), our peer groups’ views and experiences, and social interactions (e.g. information about how a peer group or work team are expected to think (groupthink) and behave (group norms)).

Internal: Our views, preferences and interests are also influenced by our individual thoughts and experiences. We all have different lived experiences that shape how we approach the world. It is useful to keep this in mind when we think about producing criminological knowledge. Lived personal experiences may include, for example, previous victimisation.

2. What effect can supposition have on research?

Supposition refers to assumptions, estimates, predictions, and educated guesswork. Supposition, along with subjectivity, influences research in terms of the validity and applicability of the research findings produced through different methods. Supposition (and subjectivity) cannot be avoided. What is important is to be aware of their influence and presence, as in this way we can be more critical and reflexive in our analysis of research data and the conclusions we reach.

3. What is meant by the term ‘black box’ supposition?

A ‘black box’ supposition may occur when we have an input (the manipulation of the IV; a particular sentence, treatment, or intervention) and a measurable output (the DV; any changes in behaviour, such as crime reduction). However, we have very little knowledge and explanation of what goes on in the ‘black box’ between these inputs and outputs; in other words, we don’t properly understand how the relationship between input and output works. This can lead to supposition filling in the blanks.

4. Outline the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of surveys: questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups.

Although the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of surveys depend on how the method is being used in a research project, they can be summarised as follows:

 

Questionnaires

Interviews

Focus Groups

Advantages

- Provides written/typed responses

- Allows for open and closed questions

- Can be self-completion or administered face-to-face

- Inexpensive

- Relatively simple and expeditious

- Provides verbal responses

- Allows for open and closed questions

- Can be conducted face-to-face, via telephone, or online

- Depth of data

- Provides verbal responses

- Can be conducted face-to-face, or online

- Allows the research to view social interaction

- Depth of data

Disadvantages

- Relies on participant’s ability to read/ write

- Can be low in ecological validity

- Demand characteristics (social desirability bias)

- Takes time and resources to collect and transcribe data

- Demand characteristics (social desirability bias)

- Takes time and resources to collect and transcribe data

- Demand characteristics (social desirability bias)

5. How would you assess if an observational method of data collection is viable for your research requirements?

It is important to keep in mind that the research method(s) we choose depend on our research questions. Different research questions require different research methods, or a combination of methods. If you are seeking to explore people’s everyday lives –their experiences and interactions – for example at their workplace, in their homes, in the course of their leisure activities, then you may find that observations are a good method to use because they tend to study real-world behaviour in real-world contexts (Noaks and Wincup, 2004).

6. Why is it important to acknowledge your own subjectivity when conducting research?

Subjectivity refers to the influence of our personal and disciplinary perspectives and opinions. It is a characteristic that all of us have. It is not a negative characteristic, but it is important to be aware of and to acknowledge our subjectivity, even more so when we conduct research.

When we conduct research, it is unavoidable that we carrying our own subjectivity. We are human! To be able to analyse and interpret our research data in ways that can lead to robust and unbiased conclusions requires us to be aware of our subjectivity so as not to let it seep into how we analyse and interpret our data. When that happens, then our subjectivity erodes the validity of our conclusions.

7. What are the potential benefits of employing a mixed methods approach?

A mixed methods approach involves the use of quantitative and qualitative methods. Such an approach helps us strengthen the reliability and validity of our research findings because by using the different methods we can benefit from their differing strengths and compensate for their individual weaknesses (Robson, 2015).

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