- Method, actor and context triangulations: knowing what happened during criminal events and the motivations for getting involved
- Book title
- Offenders on offending: learning about crime from criminals
- Pages (from-to)
- Cullompton: Willan Publishing
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Due to the relatively limited, often one-time and one-sided interaction between the offender and the researcher, the author concludes that interviews with offenders are not a useful method when used alone. When the aim is to know what happened during a criminal event and the motivations for getting involved as offender, interviews should constitute part of various kinds of methodological triangulations in order to generate valid knowledge. This conclusion is illustrated through ethnographic data collected from one juvenile offender in Cape Town, South Africa. The offender, referred to with the pseudonym "Dregan," was first met by the author in 2004 in Pollsmoor prison, where he was incarcerated for a murder he committed when he was 17 years old. When released from prison the first time, Dregan became a part of the author’s PhD research. This involved the author becoming a part of various aspects of Dregan’s life. This included getting to know his friends and family, as well as accompanying him to places he frequented. The interaction also involved interviews, participating in group discussion, completing a questionnaire, and taking pictures with a disposable camera. Through his fieldwork, the author triangulated methods and also actors and contexts. The chapter describes the kinds of triangulation used as well as the kind of perspectives developed of Dregan and the violent situation in which he became involved. The case illustrates the triangulation as a means of validating the data collected, so as to reach the most probable perspectives on the dynamics of Dregan’s violent offending.
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