Criminology on Trial: the role of auto-ethnography and emotion in research

Speaker: Professor Yvonne Jewkes (University of Leicester)


Doing criminological research can be a risky, dangerous, messy, thrilling, and traumatic experience. Yet these emotions are rarely present in written accounts.

In this presentation Yvonne Jewkes will talk about why many researchers in this field actually do a disservice to their followers by presenting their fieldwork and findings as if everything has gone completely smoothly. She will consider issues around access and ethics, as well as question assumptions about presumed rapport with participants, the richness and novelty of data elicited, and that the researchers' own mind, body and self are unaffected.

Jewkes will discuss why criminology, in contrast to many other social sciences, has largely resisted the notion that qualitative inquiry has auto-ethnographic dimensions and remained quiet on the subject of the emotional investment required of such fieldwork.

She will give examples from her own and her colleagues' work which resists the kind of impersonal, passive writing that is commonly regarded as 'scientific' and which, as Howard Becker has observed, frequently hides the very bits that most readers want to know.