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Electronic Monitoring Around the World  

Mike Nellis

Since its operational beginnings in the United States in 1982—where its prototypes were first experimented with in the 1960s and 1970s—the electronic monitoring (EM) of offenders has spread to approximately 40 countries around the world, ostensibly—but not often effectively—to reduce the use of imprisonment by making bail, community supervision, and release from prison more controlling than they have hitherto been. No single authority monitors the development of EM around the world, and it is difficult to gain fully comprehensive accounts of what is happening outside the Western and Anglophone users of it. Some countries are secretive. Standpoints in writing on EM are varied and partisan. Although it still tends to be the pacesetter of technical innovation, the United States remains a relatively lower user of EM, in part because the exceptional punitiveness of its penal culture has inhibited its expansion, even when it has itself been developed in various punitive ways. Interprofessional and intergovernmental processes of “policy transfer” have contributed to EMs spreading around the world, but the commercial bodies that manufacture and market EM equipment have been of at least equal importance. In Europe, the Confederation of European Probation (CEP), a transnational probation advocacy organization, took an early interest in EM, and its regular conferences became a touchstone of international debate. As it developed globally, the United Nations reluctantly accepted that it may be of some value even in developing countries and set out standards for its use. Continuing innovations in EM technology will create new possibilities for offender supervision, both more and less punitive, but it is always culture, commerce, and politics in particular jurisdictions which shape the scale, pace, and form of its development.


Gangs and Globalization  

Alistair Fraser and Elke Van Hellemont

It has been a century since Frederic Thrasher researched his pioneering text on youth gangs in Chicago. In it he depicts gangs as a street-based phenomenon that emerged from the combined forces of urbanization, migration, and industrialization—with new migrant groups seeking to find a toehold on the American Dream. Gangs were discrete and highly localized, drawing on names from popular culture and the neighborhood, seeking ways to survive and thrive amid the disorganization of the emerging city. In the 21st century, street gangs have been identified in urban contexts all over the world and have become increasingly viewed as a transnational phenomenon that is qualitatively different from Thrasher’s neighborhood groups. Processes of globalization have created a degree of flow and connectedness to urban life that is unlike any other stage in human history. Yet a close reading of Thrasher shows that some of the key themes in the study of gangs in a global context—urban exclusion, grey economies, human mobility, and cultural flow—were presaged in Thrasher’s work. In a global era, however, these processes have intensified, amplified, and extended in ways that could not have been predicted. We elaborate the spatial, economic, social, cultural, and technological implications of globalization for gangs across five principle areas: (1) Gangs in the Global City; (2) Gangs, Illicit Markets, and the Global Criminal Economy; (3) Mobility, Crimmigration, and the “Transnational Gang”; (4) Gangs and Glocalization; and (5) The Gang Mediascape. Taken together, these themes seek to offer both a conceptual vocabulary and empirical foundation for new and innovative studies of gangs and globalization. Empirical evidences from Europe, the United States, and beyond, emphasize the uneven impacts of globalization and the ways in which national and cultural dynamics are implicated in the study of gangs in the 21st century.


Methodological Issues in the International Study of Victimization  

Anna Alvazzi del Frate and Gergely Hideg

Victimization studies, which became popular in the 1970s, are largely based on surveys of the population. As of the late 1980s, the potential for internationally comparable surveys emerged with the first round of the International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS). Starting from early international studies and using the ICVS as a prominent example, an examination of the characteristics of victimization surveys is given, both in terms of content and methodology, their potential and limits, which make them suitable for international use. Multi-country surveys can provide indications from different countries about major crime problems, the most vulnerable population groups at risk of victimization, and perceptions and opinions about fear of crime and the performance of delegated authorities. Victimization surveys initially covered several types of conventional crime directly experienced by respondents and progressively expanded and specialized to measure bribery and corruption, both among individuals and businesses, as well as violence against women through dedicated surveys. Considering that surveys are an effective tool to measure crime and victims’ perceptions where institutional capacity is weak, the possibility to bridge knowledge gaps and engage developing countries has been identified as a major potential. Despite some methodological challenges, further use and expansion of victimization surveys is in progress (e.g., for measuring some indicators for Sustainable Development Goals [SDG]).


Qualitative Methods in International and Comparative Criminology  

Max Travers

Although the field of international criminology has mostly employed quantitative methods to test universal theories, there is a growing recognition of the potential value of qualitative methods in understanding crime and criminal justice in a globalizing world. The difficulties in developing this field are partly practical and financial. It is difficult visiting different countries and overcoming language barriers. But there are also conceptual challenges. Criminology generally is only just starting to understand and engage with the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research methods and to discover the wide range of qualitative methods employed in interdisciplinary fields, such as education, health, environmental, media, and management studies, and to recognize that theories are important in this field.


The Quantitative Study of Terrorist Events: Challenges and Opportunities  

Jonathan Grossman and Ami Pedahzur

Since 2001, unprecedented resources have been invested in research into global terrorism, resulting in a dramatic rise in the number of academic publications on the topic. Works by scholars from predominantly quantitative disciplines predominate in this literature, and the unfolding development of data science and big data research has accentuated the trend. Many researchers in global terrorism created event databases, in which every row represents a distinct terrorist attack and every column a variable (e.g., the date and location of the attack, the number of casualties, etc.). Such event data are usually extracted from news sources and undergo a process of coding—the translation of unstructured text into numerical or categorical values. Some researchers collect and code their data manually; others use an automated script, or combine the efforts of humans and software. Other researchers who use event data do not collect and process their data at all; rather, they analyze other scholars’ databases. Academics and practitioners have relied on such databases for the cross-regional study of terrorism, analyzing their data statistically in an attempt to identify trends, build theories, predict future incidents, and formulate policies. Unfortunately, event data on terrorism often suffer from substantial issues of accuracy and reproducibility. A comparison between the data on suicide terrorism in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in two of the most prominent databases in the field and an independent database of confirmed events reveals the magnitude of these problems. Among the most common pitfalls for event data are replication problems (the sources that the databases cite, if there are any at all, cannot be retrieved), selection bias (events that should have been included in the database are not in it), description bias (the details of events in the database are incorrect), and coding problems (for example, duplicate events). Some of these problems originate in the press sources that are used to create the databases, usually English-language newspaper articles, and others are attributable to deficient data-gathering and/or coding practices on the part of database creators and coders. In many cases, these researchers do not understand the local contexts, languages, histories, and cultures of the regions they study. Further, many coders are not trained in qualitative methods and are thus incapable of critically reading and accurately coding their unstructured sources. Overcoming these challenges will require a change of attitude: truly accurate and impactful cross-regional data on terrorism can only be achieved through collaboration across projects, disciplines, and fields of expertise. The creators of event databases are encouraged to adopt the high standards of transparency, replicability, data-sharing, and version control that are prevalent in the STEM sciences and among software developers. More than anything, they need to acknowledge that without good and rigorous qualitative work during the stage of data collection, there can be no good quantitative work during the stage of data analysis.