Spins, Stalls, and Shutdowns: Pitfalls of Qualitative Policing and Security Research

  • Randy K. Lippert University of Windsor
  • Kevin Walby University of Winnipeg
  • Blair Wilkinson University of Victoria
Keywords: qualitative methods, research pitfalls, policing, security, risk, reflexivity, interviews, observations

Abstract

This article explores key elements of qualitative research on policing and security agencies, including barriers encountered and strategies to prevent them. While it is oft-assumed that policing/security agencies are difficult to access due to their clandestine or bureaucratic nature, this article demonstrates this is not necessarily the case, as access was gained for three distinct qualitative research projects. Yet, access and subsequent research were not without pitfalls, which we term security spins, security stalls, and security shutdowns. We illustrate how each was encountered and argue these pitfalls are akin to researchers falling into risk categories, not unlike those used by policing/security agents in their work. Before concluding we discuss methodological strategies for scholars to avoid these pitfalls and to advance research that critically interrogates the immense policing/security realm.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1601108

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Author Biographies

Randy K. Lippert, University of Windsor

Randy K. LIPPERT is professor of criminology, Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of Windsor, Canada, and for 2015 was Thinker-in-Residence, Deakin University, Australia. He has co-edited with K. WALBY "Policing Cities: Urban Securitization and Regulation" (2013, Routledge) and "Corporate Security in the 21st Century: Theory and Practice in International Perspective" (2014, Palgrave). He is co-author with K. WALBY of "Municipal Corporate Security in International Context" (2015, Routledge).

Kevin Walby, University of Winnipeg

Kevin WALBY is associate professor and Chancellor’s Research Chair, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Winnipeg, Canada. He has co-edited with R.K. LIPPERT "Policing Cities: Urban Securitization and Regulation" (2013, Routledge) and "Corporate Security in the 21st Century: Theory and Practice in International Perspective" (2014, Palgrave). He is co-author with R.K. LIPPERT of "Municipal Corporate Security in International Context" (2015, Routledge).

Blair Wilkinson, University of Victoria

Blair WILKINSON is a PhD candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Victoria, Canada. His dissertation research examines university security services and others in their security networks, with a focus on how university security governance is both informed by, and legitimized through appeals to, socially appropriate understandings of university education and risk management. He is also interested in policing/security services use of technology (e.g., social media and video surveillance).

Published
2015-11-29
Section
Single Contributions