Researching “dangerous” and “problematic” populations: some methodological reflections
Ethnography has been an important research method which has given insight to ‘dangerous’ and ‘problematic’ populations. Yet, ethnographic methods with such populations are increasingly rare as the governance of social-science research takes on an ever more intensified ‘risk-assessment’ approach. Based on projects which made use of ethnographic methods undertaken from 2004 to 2008, this paper will try to offer some methodological reflections on working with ‘dangerous’ and ‘problematic’ populations such as mentally ill adults, those with ASBOs, crack cocaine users, and gangs. It will call for greater consideration to be given to the use of ethnographic methods with such populations to inform policy and practice.
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