The Craft of Doing Qualitative Research in Prisons
In this article we examine the characteristics, challenges and added value of qualitative prison research in a Belgian context. As the many dynamics and challenges of qualitative research are often underreported in academic publications, we pay particular attention to the research processes and the pains and gains of qualitative prison research. Firstly, drawing on experiences from several prison studies, we describe the different steps of gaining access to the field as a constant process of negotiation. Secondly, we discuss some of the dilemmas of prison research based on two ethnographic studies of prison staff. We end with discussion of the value added by a qualitative research approach to facilitate understanding of what is at stake in prisons and how this fits with a critical research position.
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