Crime and justice

What should the independent essay look like?The independent essay is similar in style to a normal essay, with some exceptions. First, it is longer, at approximately 4000 words. Second, you should expect to look for ways to organise your essay effectively, with subsections that represent the different questions you have attempted to address. Third, you will need to make sure that you have:•included an introduction that clearly outlines the topic area and the questions you are exploring, your overall argument and your planned essay structure (this is called ‘signposting’, and you should return to your questions and plan throughout your essay)•used relevant concepts and theories to explore your topic area•used different types of evidence to support your investigations – for example, statistics, research and case studies; these will be drawn from existing sources (usually referred to as ‘secondary research’)•used at least one policy document to illustrate and provide evidence for your arguments; in addition, you will need to show some evidence of being able to critically assess such a document or documents•considered briefly how the ‘politics of research’ may have influenced your access to knowledge•included a conclusion that summarises your ‘findings’•included a full reference list, in the Harvard style.In the Book 2 companion you looked at the following skills:1.identifying theory2.applying theory to research and evidence3.writing critically about theory and research evidence4.considering ethical issues and the politics of research5.thinking critically about documents6.using module concepts7.synthesising different materials in writing.These skills will be important in completing your TMA 05 independent essay, and if you are not yet comfortable with using them you may wish to revisit them now.Completing the independent essayHow to write a review of the fieldIn TMA 03 you should have already identified and summarised some sources of relevant literature. You may now be in a position to expand on this, or perhaps to realise that some of the literature you have selected previously may not be as relevant as you first thought.This section explores what a literature review is, what it is for, and how to write up your chosen literature for your independent essay.Being able to review a range of literature on a subject is a skill required both as part of university studies and increasingly in jobs that involve a certain amount of research or report writing. What is called a ‘literature review’ is an exercise in demonstrating that you are familiar with a range of literature in your chosen topic area and that you are able to make links between the literature, while at the same time acknowledging that within particular fields of study there may be differences of opinion and debate. The kinds of questions you need to ask when reviewing academic and other research and writing on a particular topic area are:•How might I summarise the points of view being expressed in writing and research on a particular topic? Are there similarities and differences between them?•In what ways are these perspectives convincing in terms of argument or evidential claims? Does my own research or writing add to the weight of literature available?•Are there any problems or gaps in research and writing conducted in this field, and in what ways could I contribute to highlighting these gaps or exploring them in more detail?We certainly do not expect you to know everything that has been written about a particular topic. What we do expect is that you can show that you can search for relevant material; that you can accurately express the arguments you find there, whether in terms of ideas or research findings; and that you are able to show some critical ability in assessing those ideas and research findings. For TMA 05 there is no set limit to the number of sources that you might wish to cite. While the questions noted above might go some way beyond these expectations, they are nevertheless questions worth bearing in mind.This section explores the following:•What sort of approach should you take to the literature?•In what ways should a review of literature be written?What sort of approach should you take to the literature?Having selected a range of sources, the issue remains as to how to use them. Doing a review of literature is not the same as writing an essay, although there may be some similarities, such as critical analysis and accurate and well-referenced presentation of ideas and research. A literature review is different because it tends to be more succinct and summative, on the one hand, and aims to be a rounded presentation of the nature of writing and research on the topic area, on the other. It is really asking you to understand what the field ‘looks like’: the core themes, the criticisms, and what may be missing from work conducted so far. This should become clearer when we look at an example of how literature reviews are written.In what ways should a review of literature be written?The best way to start this discussion is with an illustration. The following extract is taken from an article by Lois Wacquant, published in 2001, on the relationship between race and mass imprisonment in the USA. We will assess the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the way in which the literature is written up. He begins by outlining what he calls ‘three brute facts’ (Wacquant, 2001, p. 96): first, that African Americans make up the majority of those incarcerated in the USA; second, that the rate of incarceration for African Americans has soared, so that, as Wacquant estimates, ‘upwards of one-third of African-American men find themselves behind bars, on probation or on parole’ (p. 96); and third, that there is a growing gulf between the imprisonment rate of African-American and white people in America, ‘where blacks are 35 times more likely than whites to be put behind bars in 1994’ (p. 96). With this in mind, he goes on to say the following.These grim statistics are well-known and agreed among students of crime and justice – though they have been steadfastly ignored or minimized by analysts of urban poverty and policy, who have yet to register the enormously disruptive impact that imprisonment has on low-income black communities, as shown by Miller (1997). What remains in dispute are the causes and mechanisms driving this sudden ‘blackening’ which has turned the carceral system into one of the few national institutions dominated by African Americans, alongside professional sports and selected sectors of the entertainments industry. Most analysts have focused on trends in crime and endeavoured to deconstruct the source of black over-representation in prison by sorting and sifting through patterns of criminality, bias in arrest, prosecution, and sentencing, and prior criminal records (see Blumstein, 1993, for a model study, and Tonry,1995, pp.56–79, for a vigorous and rigorous review). A few have expanded their compass to measure the influence of such non-judicial variables as the size of the black population, the poverty rate, unemployment, inflation, income, value of welfare payments, region, support for religious fundamentalism, and political party in office (e.g. Lessan, 1991; Yates, 1997; Greenberg and West, 1999). But none of these factors, taken separately or jointly, accounts for the sheer magnitude, rapidity, and timing of the recent racialisation of US imprisonment, especially as crime rates have been flat and later declining over that period. For this, it is necessary, first, to take a longer historical view and, second, to break out of the narrow ‘crime-and-punishment’ paradigm to reckon the extra-penological role of the penal system for the management of dispossessed and dishonoured groups.ReferencesBlumstein, Alfred (1993) ‘Racial disproportionality of US prison revisited’. University of Colorado Law Review 64: 743–760.Greenberg, David and Valerie West (1999) ‘Growth of state prison populations, 1971–1991’. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Law and Society Association, Chicago, May.Lessan, Gloria T. (1991) ‘Macro-economic determinants of penal policy: Estimating the unemployment and inflation influences on imprisonment rate changes in the United States, 1948–1985’. Crime, Law and Social Change 16(2): 177–198.Miller, Jerome G. (1997) Search and destroy: African-American males in the criminal justice system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Tonry, Michael (1995) Malign neglect: Race, class, and punishment in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Yates, Jeff (1997) ‘Racial incarceration disparity among states’. Social Science Quarterly 78–4 (December): 1001–1010.(Wacquant, 2001, pp. 96–7)Using the extract to construct a literature reviewWe can use this extract to see how to construct a literature review. First, it contains no elongated quotations or in-depth discussions of a particular theory; rather, it succinctly summarises the various schools of thought and the referenced key sources. Second, it uses these sources to look at what is missing from the debate so far – that research conducted on this issue has not really accounted for the startling rate of imprisonment for African Americans in recent years – and what alternative theory the author offers. This demonstrates some crucial learning points for your independent essay: first, that you do not need to quote extensively to get across a sense of an author’s position; second, that you can look for links between authors, which can be cast as ‘schools of thought’; and third, that you can critically assess these positions in order to illustrate what you plan to do.One of the questions you may be asking yourself at this point concerns the difference between a ‘literature review’ and the complete TMA. Surely, as the whole piece of work is based on existing published work (as opposed to being a report of some ‘new’ or what is sometimes called ‘empirical’ research), it is simply an extended literature review? What is the point of having a separate section at the beginning purporting to be a review of the literature?This is a common problem encountered by students and established academics alike, where findings are based on ‘secondary’ or previously published resources. There are at least two ways of dealing with this problem. The first method is to acknowledge that a separate literature section at the beginning of your TMA is a literature review within a literature review by treating it as a distinct part of the essay. It becomes an introductory section that sets up the question and the literature you are going to draw upon and acts as a means of identifying ‘the problem’ you are going to tackle. The aim is to provide a platform upon which the main ideas that will be explored later in the essay are set up; the platform is a starting point for the more developed arguments that will come later in the essay. A second method is to acknowledge that there is a field of literature upon which the main arguments you are going to develop are based and to simply ‘dive into’ the debate, without having a separate heading of ‘literature review’. Either of these approaches is acceptable for TMA 05, but you must remember that the aim is not only to cover the main literature and use it effectively to back up your debates, but also to summarise it succinctly and to assess it critically, as outlined and illustrated above.Selecting and analysing documents and textsDocument analysis is often used as part of an overall research design that might also include, for example, interviews, survey research, observation and ethnography. In this case, however, we are not asking you to generate primary data through the use of techniques such as interviews and observation. Rather, we are asking you to concentrate on finding, selecting and critically analysing documents that have significance for the study of a particular topic in crime and criminal justice. In addition to academic journal articles, some of these might be ‘policy’ documents in the traditional sense, such as government papers, legislative outlines and policy and practice guidelines from statutory bodies, as well as documents produced by transnational bodies such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). We are not, however, suggesting that you restrict yourself to such ‘official’ documents. You might also want – and need – to take into consideration documents produced by campaigning groups and social movements, as well as journals and newspapers.Selecting documentsYou have already been introduced to some useful resources to help you in your search for and selection of documents to analyse in your independent essay. The documents on the module website are a useful starting point. You may also have done a basic internet search of key words for your chosen topic. For TMA 05, such searches should be more extensive and systematic in order to generate your own material for analysis. Remember that not all search engines are equally useful. Some may generate thousands of documents, relatively indiscriminately, and many of these may not be useful for academic work. You may already have come across a number of useful resources, particularly through the Open University (OU) Library or via external websites, and you should by now have a feeling for which of these might be particularly helpful to you. If you are still unsure about this, you might like to revisit the sections of the book companions that introduced and developed document search skills.Your work on the book companions should also have alerted you to the need to think about whether the authors are defending a particular point of view, how the arguments, research findings or examples put forward in the document relate to other material in the same field, whether any evidence put forward is well researched or whether there are any obvious omissions or biases. You may wish to refresh your memory on reading critically by returning to the sections of the book companions where these issues are addressed.Whatever sources you use, you will need to keep detailed references and a clear note of where you found them. As you are aware, references are vital in any piece of academic work and help to avoid any suggestion of plagiarism, as well as enabling other readers and researchers to access the sources themselves. As your analysis proceeds, you may wish to go back and look at a document again, and you will save yourself vital time and trouble if you know exactly where to find it.Having explored the ways in which you select documents, we will now (re)turn to some of the ways in which you can develop an analysis of your chosen documents.Developing an analysisAnalysis is a key part of any piece of research. The material your investigation has generated does not speak for itself. You need to work with it, ask questions of it, make connections between the material and your initial research questions, and draw out the relationship between theory and policy in your material and, for the specific purposes of this TMA, explore its relationship to one or more of the module themes. You should aim to make connections between one piece of material and another, look at their worth and make judgements about them in order to draw conclusions in relation to your research question(s) and to convey all this information to your readers. This is what we mean when we talk about the analysis stage of documentary research.For example, if you plan to structure your TMA around a critical analysis of a particular policy document, it is important to give attention to the original document, but also to related sources so that you are not reliant solely on the interpretation of (privileged) others and are aware of relevant debates about the topic(s) it is addressing. As discussed, there are always questions that need to be asked of documents, and policy documents in particular, such as how they relate to the overall debate in a given area, why they were produced, by whom and when, what kind of evidence they draw on in presenting their arguments, what they include, what they exclude and what they reveal about dominant assumptions in the field.There are a number of recognised methods for using and analysing documents in the social sciences, and these can be categorised differently depending on the approach of particular authors to research methods. Here, for our purposes, we can outline five approaches to studying documents in the social sciences:1.studying documents for descriptive and explanatory purposes2.content analysis3.discourse analysis4.viewing documents as ‘actors’ in their own right5.identifying the political nature of how particular issues come to be deemed worthy of sustained research attention, whereas others are relatively ignored.Previous: Developing an analysisDescriptive analysisStudying documents for descriptive and explanatory purposes might involve identifying trends, whether past, present or future, exploring approaches and responses to particular social issues and comparing these across time and place. Document study enables us to bring together evidence from a number of studies and to re-examine evidence previously gathered. You may already have noted that in order to move from the level of description to the level of explanation, the empirical ‘evidence’ contained within documents alone will not suffice. More in-depth discussion and attempts at explanation require the use of theory and concepts, even though these may not always be made explicit. In particular, you should not expect the policy document(s) that you use for your independent essay to ‘speak for themselves’; you will need to make use of module themes and concepts and to draw on theoretical approaches that relate to your topic in order to situate and make sense of them.Content analysisContent analysis is the study of the content of texts. Texts may involve words, but they may also be pictures, recorded media such as film, television, radio and DVD, and underlying meanings. Quantitative content analysis aims at the systematic measurement of particular features of the chosen texts, whereas qualitative analysis concentrates more on meanings and interpretations, although content analysis will often include both quantitative and qualitative approaches.The kinds of aspects that might be measured quantitatively using content analysis include frequency of mention or representation of a particular topic or group of people (e.g. street crime rather than white-collar crime, or the activities of illegal drug users rather than those of pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession); amount of time, space or attention given to these topics or groups; and location and timing of reference to particular topics or groups. (For example, do we see frequent representations of illegal drug use on mainstream television programmes, including the news, and in mass-market newspapers? Are the activities of pharmaceutical companies more likely to be discussed in minority interest publications?)In order for quantitative content analysis to go beyond description and into explanation, concepts and theories are needed. Thus, we might be able to suggest why and how things appear as they do, rather than simply counting them.Qualitative content analysis takes this further and goes beyond the immediately visible. It will involve a more detailed and in-depth consideration of texts. These might be investigated for their ideological influences and nuances; their underlying or ‘hidden’ meanings; their origins, purpose, context and intended audience(s); and the extent to which they give voice to particular cultural codes, norms and attitudes.A specific form of qualitative content analysis, which grew in influence during the late twentieth century and early this century, is discourse analysis.Discourse analysisDiscourse analysis is particularly concerned with the role of language and texts and the ways in which reality is constructed through them. Discourses are frameworks of meaning that are produced in certain cultures at certain times. They encompass ways of thinking, talking about and doing things; in other words, they operate not just through language but also in actual material practices, such as how we treat people who break the law. We can also go beyond looking at these practices to examine how particular discourses act to produce particular outcomes. For example, we could ask how legislation to control borders creates particular categories of ‘problem’ or criminal individuals and groups, ranging from economic migrants to drug and people traffickers and ‘terrorists’. Discourse analysis focuses on these frameworks of meaning as they come to us through language and texts of all kinds. Discourses contain information about what is seen as desirable or undesirable, appropriate or inappropriate, criminal or permitted, in ways that both reflect social context and work to construct it.There are many types of discourse analysis, commonly focusing on interactions between individuals and groups, identities and the shaping of ‘selves’, and social and cultural understandings and practices. We are particularly concerned with discourse analysis as it relates to the study of documents, where the emphasis is on interpretive and deconstructive readings of texts and where language has a value in itself. Such readings do not enable us to find concrete answers to particular criminological ‘problems’, but do enable us to explore the ways in which ‘problems’ are established and require particular solutions. We can also explore the existence of competing discourses and the significance of power. Using discourse analysis through detailed examination of the language of a document and any recurring patterns in its organisation and structure, we can ask what assumptions are being made, what is left out or concealed, what particular frameworks for making sense of the world (discourses) are being called upon and what contradictions and competing discourses can be found in this or other relevant documents. It is not possible to carry out this kind of investigation without some familiarity with existing conceptual and theoretical frameworks, and the best way to get practice in doing it is to read other examples of discourse analysis.Documents as ‘actors’In addition to the methods for analysing documents outlined above, you might like to think about the growing interest in the ways in which documents should not be seen simply in terms of providing us with evidence, but should also be considered as actors in their own right. This might seem a rather strange idea at first, but what is being argued here is that documents are not just containers of content. We can look at the ways in which documents circulate and how they are used and can make an impact in particular settings. The same document might be received and used differently in different settings, and documents might function as, for example, allies, opposition, rule setters and decision makers. In this way, they can be said to play an active rather than a passive part in social interaction and social organisation. These ideas are taken from Lindsay Prior (2008) and draw on actor-network theory (ANT), which overturns the traditional distinction between humans and non-humans and sees both as actors forming part of social networks. You do not need to get into the detail of this approach, but if you are particularly interested in it, you might like to read Prior’s article. The full reference is:Prior, L. (2008) ‘Repositioning documents in social research’, Sociology, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 821–36.You might want to think about incorporating elements of such an approach into your independent essay. How have the documents you have selected for study been used as part of interaction and/or organisation around a particular issue?The politics of documentary researchIn 2000, Gordon Hughes accurately observed that students of criminology may read published reports, journal articles and books and consider that the production of criminological knowledge is a straightforward and systematic process. He argued that the finished product may appear as a neat and ‘tidy picture’, without revealing the often complicated, controlled and ‘political’ nature of actually conducting research and publishing findings. What does this mean? It means that researchers may encounter obstacles and difficulties that are often part-and-parcel of the research process. Such things as gaining access to government or corporate documentation or personnel, seeking ethical clearances, securing financial support, negotiating contractual ambiguities and publishing outcomes are often fraught with intervention by individuals in positions of power and authority who seek to monitor or control the production of knowledge that may threaten their vested interests (Walters, 2003). Sometimes, documents or statistics may not exist or are held across various institutions and are not available for public consumption. If you choose as your topic corporate crime or eco crime, for example, you may find that although there are many websites, such as Corporate Watch, that attempt to keep information in the public domain, small or large corporations are able to protect their ‘commercial secrets’ through law.Of course, the difficulties you encounter while conducting criminological research are findings in themselves and serve to assist others in the trials and tribulations of conducting research. Therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that conducting criminological research often involves investigating and revealing issues of sensitivity. It is often hard work and you may sometimes encounter legal, ethical, moral and institutional dilemmas that are not always apparent in the pages of books or journal articles. These political aspects to conducting criminological research can often make it a very difficult process that requires the application of perseverance, guidance and, of course, skill to what is often a challenging, frustrating but very enjoyable and worthwhile journey.Unpacking document analysisIn this section we will return to the document Home Office Development and Practice Report, Defining and Measuring Anti-social Behaviour (Harradine et al., 2004). Below we reproduce a short section from this document in order to describe how you might begin analysis.People’s understanding of what constitutes anti-social behaviour (ASB) is determined by a series of factors including context, location, community tolerance and quality of life expectations (Nixon et al., 2003 Developing Good Practice in Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour in Mixed Tenure Areas. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University). As a result, what may be considered anti-social behaviour to one person can be seen as acceptable behaviour to another. The subjective nature of the concept makes it difficult to identify a single definition of anti-social behaviour.(Harradine et al., 2004, p. 3)So how might this extract be analysed? We demonstrate this in the table below.Using themes and concepts and applying theoryYou will already be aware through your university studies that your modules and your tutors stress the need to use theories and explain ideas conceptually, and that these two put together somehow link to what is called an analytical approach to thinking and writing. This is no less true of your independent essay, and one of the core skills we are assessing is your ability to use theory and a chosen concept to inform your writing. But what does it mean to ‘use theory’ and ‘use a concept’ to inform your writing? What is theory, and what is a concept?In this section, we will try to unpack theories and concepts and why they are important for your independent essay and your studies in general. In addition, we will look at how you will be expected to use them in your independent essay.A theory is a complex and interrelated set of ideas that aims to explain a particular phenomenon. For example, in Chapter 3 on cybercrime in Book 1, Crime: Local and Global, the following theory is offered in order to explain people’s attraction to what are often referred to as violent computer games and internet websites:It is in this context that the perspectives offered by cultural criminology are particularly useful. Rather than focusing on instrumental criminal behaviour (i.e. criminal acts committed for material gain), cultural criminology is much more interested in the relationship between the emotional content of criminal and deviant behaviours and the socio-cultures of late modern societies … This means that, for cultural criminologists such as Jeff Ferrell (1999), Mike Presdee (2000) and Keith Hayward (2004), criminal and illicit behaviours – joy riding, vandalism, peer group violence, recreational drug use, and so forth – are both transgressive and excitement driven. The pleasures seemingly offered by such rule-breaking behaviours have to be analysed in the terms of the interplay between these behaviours and the particular norms and values of contemporary Western societies.(Neal, 2010, p. 93)Theories of late modernityThe theory offered by cultural criminologists is that we live in a period of history known as late modernity. Late modernity describes a transition to postmodernity – a description given to advanced Western societies whose social systems are no longer based on the production of goods, that activity having moved to the developing world, particularly China, Taiwan and India. Rather, they are based on the mass consumption of goods, whether these are financial services, cultural or media-related goods, and underpinned by the dominance of the financial services that circulate money products globally, by financial speculation and by symbolic industries such as the mass media and other forms of cultural production that are globally interconnected.Central to theories of late modernity then, is the global movement of finance, culture and people that has been summarised as ‘globalisation’. The rise of the global ‘free market’ in goods, culture and people has signalled a retreat by national governments in their attempt to control and regulate societies and economies – government attempts to over-tax or over-regulate business, finance and labour markets will entail the movement of production elsewhere. Hence one of the hallmarks of late modernity is the penetration of market values and consumerism into ‘governance’ – the regulation of society. Associated with late modern societies is mass consumption; for cultural criminologists, mass consumption and confusions of identity lead people to commit transgressive acts, whether these are ‘binge drinking’, joy riding or more serious crimes committed for reasons of pleasure and excitement.What is a concept?If this is a theory, what is a concept? A concept is a word or phrase, or more precisely a general notion or abstract idea, that summarises and describes the general thrust of a theory. In the above example, we might think of ‘transgression’ as being a concept, because it describes in one word all the essentials of the perspective of cultural criminologists. We can also describe ‘late modernity’ as a concept, in that it has been used by sociologists to describe the kinds of social changes outlined in the previous paragraph. The module themes of power, harm and violence, and local and global relations are also concepts, and you are required to use at least one of these in your essay. This of course should not preclude the use of other concepts, which you may also refer to in your essay.Understanding how topics, themes, concepts and evidence work togetherUsing the example of mass imprisonment in the table below, let us look more closely at how topics, module themes, concepts and evidence work together. Your chosen theme and the theories associated with it are there to inform your essay. To take the example used in the table below, you could explain the relevance and impact of harm and violence by using the concept of ‘a punitive turn’ to explain the drift towards mass imprisonment in some democratic countries. You will see also in this table a list of theoretical perspectives that are associated with the concept. Lastly, you will see a column explaining how evidence relates to the topic, module theme, concept and theory. The most important thing is to use effectively the module theme you have chosen, making use of other concepts, theories and evidence to do soTMA 05 Learning outcomesTMA 03 and TMA 05 jointly assess students on a range of basic and higher-level research skills.Students are assessed on their ability to:•know how to search for materials such as journal articles and other kinds of academically relevant documents and Web-based materials•know how to assess the relevance of different kinds of evidence for their own research•use module materials effectively to source further relevant reading•read and synthesise material from secondary research sources•develop an outline (or research proposal) that will guide subsequent research.In addition to the above, TMA 05 assesses students’ abilities to:•synthesise a range of different materials in a coherent written form•mobilise evidence to support an argument or research•use and critically apply theory to a chosen research topic•use different methodological approaches to critically interrogate policy and other relevant documents, including the politics of research as it is concerned with documentary material.What should the independent essay look like?The independent essay is similar in style to a normal essay, with some exceptions. First, it is longer, at approximately 4000 words. Second, you should expect to look for ways to organise your essay effectively, with subsections that represent the different questions you have attempted to address. Third, you will need to make sure that you have:•included an introduction that clearly outlines the topic area and the questions you are exploring, your overall argument and your planned essay structure (this is called ‘signposting’, and you should return to your questions and plan throughout your essay)•used relevant concepts and theories to explore your topic area•used different types of evidence to support your investigations – for example, statistics, research and case studies; these will be drawn from existing sources (usually referred to as ‘secondary research’)•used at least one policy document to illustrate and provide evidence for your arguments; in addition, you will need to show some evidence of being able to critically assess such a document or documents•considered briefly how the ‘politics of research’ may have influenced your access to knowledge•included a conclusion that summarises your ‘findings’•included a full reference list, in the Harvard style.In the Book 2 companion you looked at the following skills:1.identifying theory2.applying theory to research and evidence3.writing critically about theory and research evidence4.considering ethical issues and the politics of research5.thinking critically about documents6.using module concepts7.synthesising different materials in writing.These skills will be important in completing your TMA 05 independent essay, and if you are not yet comfortable with using them you may wish to revisit them now.Completing the independent essayHow to write a review of the fieldIn TMA 03 you should have already identified and summarised some sources of relevant literature. You may now be in a position to expand on this, or perhaps to realise that some of the literature you have selected previously may not be as relevant as you first thought.This section explores what a literature review is, what it is for, and how to write up your chosen literature for your independent essay.Being able to review a range of literature on a subject is a skill required both as part of university studies and increasingly in jobs that involve a certain amount of research or report writing. What is called a ‘literature review’ is an exercise in demonstrating that you are familiar with a range of literature in your chosen topic area and that you are able to make links between the literature, while at the same time acknowledging that within particular fields of study there may be differences of opinion and debate. The kinds of questions you need to ask when reviewing academic and other research and writing on a particular topic area are:•How might I summarise the points of view being expressed in writing and research on a particular topic? Are there similarities and differences between them?•In what ways are these perspectives convincing in terms of argument or evidential claims? Does my own research or writing add to the weight of literature available?•Are there any problems or gaps in research and writing conducted in this field, and in what ways could I contribute to highlighting these gaps or exploring them in more detail?We certainly do not expect you to know everything that has been written about a particular topic. What we do expect is that you can show that you can search for relevant material; that you can accurately express the arguments you find there, whether in terms of ideas or research findings; and that you are able to show some critical ability in assessing those ideas and research findings. For TMA 05 there is no set limit to the number of sources that you might wish to cite. While the questions noted above might go some way beyond these expectations, they are nevertheless questions worth bearing in mind.This section explores the following:•What sort of approach should you take to the literature?•In what ways should a review of literature be written?What sort of approach should you take to the literature?Having selected a range of sources, the issue remains as to how to use them. Doing a review of literature is not the same as writing an essay, although there may be some similarities, such as critical analysis and accurate and well-referenced presentation of ideas and research. A literature review is different because it tends to be more succinct and summative, on the one hand, and aims to be a rounded presentation of the nature of writing and research on the topic area, on the other. It is really asking you to understand what the field ‘looks like’: the core themes, the criticisms, and what may be missing from work conducted so far. This should become clearer when we look at an example of how literature reviews are written.In what ways should a review of literature be written?The best way to start this discussion is with an illustration. The following extract is taken from an article by Lois Wacquant, published in 2001, on the relationship between race and mass imprisonment in the USA. We will assess the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the way in which the literature is written up. He begins by outlining what he calls ‘three brute facts’ (Wacquant, 2001, p. 96): first, that African Americans make up the majority of those incarcerated in the USA; second, that the rate of incarceration for African Americans has soared, so that, as Wacquant estimates, ‘upwards of one-third of African-American men find themselves behind bars, on probation or on parole’ (p. 96); and third, that there is a growing gulf between the imprisonment rate of African-American and white people in America, ‘where blacks are 35 times more likely than whites to be put behind bars in 1994’ (p. 96). With this in mind, he goes on to say the following.These grim statistics are well-known and agreed among students of crime and justice – though they have been steadfastly ignored or minimized by analysts of urban poverty and policy, who have yet to register the enormously disruptive impact that imprisonment has on low-income black communities, as shown by Miller (1997). What remains in dispute are the causes and mechanisms driving this sudden ‘blackening’ which has turned the carceral system into one of the few national institutions dominated by African Americans, alongside professional sports and selected sectors of the entertainments industry. Most analysts have focused on trends in crime and endeavoured to deconstruct the source of black over-representation in prison by sorting and sifting through patterns of criminality, bias in arrest, prosecution, and sentencing, and prior criminal records (see Blumstein, 1993, for a model study, and Tonry,1995, pp.56–79, for a vigorous and rigorous review). A few have expanded their compass to measure the influence of such non-judicial variables as the size of the black population, the poverty rate, unemployment, inflation, income, value of welfare payments, region, support for religious fundamentalism, and political party in office (e.g. Lessan, 1991; Yates, 1997; Greenberg and West, 1999). But none of these factors, taken separately or jointly, accounts for the sheer magnitude, rapidity, and timing of the recent racialisation of US imprisonment, especially as crime rates have been flat and later declining over that period. For this, it is necessary, first, to take a longer historical view and, second, to break out of the narrow ‘crime-and-punishment’ paradigm to reckon the extra-penological role of the penal system for the management of dispossessed and dishonoured groups.ReferencesBlumstein, Alfred (1993) ‘Racial disproportionality of US prison revisited’. University of Colorado Law Review 64: 743–760.Greenberg, David and Valerie West (1999) ‘Growth of state prison populations, 1971–1991’. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Law and Society Association, Chicago, May.Lessan, Gloria T. (1991) ‘Macro-economic determinants of penal policy: Estimating the unemployment and inflation influences on imprisonment rate changes in the United States, 1948–1985’. Crime, Law and Social Change 16(2): 177–198.Miller, Jerome G. (1997) Search and destroy: African-American males in the criminal justice system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Tonry, Michael (1995) Malign neglect: Race, class, and punishment in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Yates, Jeff (1997) ‘Racial incarceration disparity among states’. Social Science Quarterly 78–4 (December): 1001–1010.(Wacquant, 2001, pp. 96–7)Using the extract to construct a literature reviewWe can use this extract to see how to construct a literature review. First, it contains no elongated quotations or in-depth discussions of a particular theory; rather, it succinctly summarises the various schools of thought and the referenced key sources. Second, it uses these sources to look at what is missing from the debate so far – that research conducted on this issue has not really accounted for the startling rate of imprisonment for African Americans in recent years – and what alternative theory the author offers. This demonstrates some crucial learning points for your independent essay: first, that you do not need to quote extensively to get across a sense of an author’s position; second, that you can look for links between authors, which can be cast as ‘schools of thought’; and third, that you can critically assess these positions in order to illustrate what you plan to do.One of the questions you may be asking yourself at this point concerns the difference between a ‘literature review’ and the complete TMA. Surely, as the whole piece of work is based on existing published work (as opposed to being a report of some ‘new’ or what is sometimes called ‘empirical’ research), it is simply an extended literature review? What is the point of having a separate section at the beginning purporting to be a review of the literature?This is a common problem encountered by students and established academics alike, where findings are based on ‘secondary’ or previously published resources. There are at least two ways of dealing with this problem. The first method is to acknowledge that a separate literature section at the beginning of your TMA is a literature review within a literature review by treating it as a distinct part of the essay. It becomes an introductory section that sets up the question and the literature you are going to draw upon and acts as a means of identifying ‘the problem’ you are going to tackle. The aim is to provide a platform upon which the main ideas that will be explored later in the essay are set up; the platform is a starting point for the more developed arguments that will come later in the essay. A second method is to acknowledge that there is a field of literature upon which the main arguments you are going to develop are based and to simply ‘dive into’ the debate, without having a separate heading of ‘literature review’. Either of these approaches is acceptable for TMA 05, but you must remember that the aim is not only to cover the main literature and use it effectively to back up your debates, but also to summarise it succinctly and to assess it critically, as outlined and illustrated above.Selecting and analysing documents and textsDocument analysis is often used as part of an overall research design that might also include, for example, interviews, survey research, observation and ethnography. In this case, however, we are not asking you to generate primary data through the use of techniques such as interviews and observation. Rather, we are asking you to concentrate on finding, selecting and critically analysing documents that have significance for the study of a particular topic in crime and criminal justice. In addition to academic journal articles, some of these might be ‘policy’ documents in the traditional sense, such as government papers, legislative outlines and policy and practice guidelines from statutory bodies, as well as documents produced by transnational bodies such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). We are not, however, suggesting that you restrict yourself to such ‘official’ documents. You might also want – and need – to take into consideration documents produced by campaigning groups and social movements, as well as journals and newspapers.Selecting documentsYou have already been introduced to some useful resources to help you in your search for and selection of documents to analyse in your independent essay. The documents on the module website are a useful starting point. You may also have done a basic internet search of key words for your chosen topic. For TMA 05, such searches should be more extensive and systematic in order to generate your own material for analysis. Remember that not all search engines are equally useful. Some may generate thousands of documents, relatively indiscriminately, and many of these may not be useful for academic work. You may already have come across a number of useful resources, particularly through the Open University (OU) Library or via external websites, and you should by now have a feeling for which of these might be particularly helpful to you. If you are still unsure about this, you might like to revisit the sections of the book companions that introduced and developed document search skills.Your work on the book companions should also have alerted you to the need to think about whether the authors are defending a particular point of view, how the arguments, research findings or examples put forward in the document relate to other material in the same field, whether any evidence put forward is well researched or whether there are any obvious omissions or biases. You may wish to refresh your memory on reading critically by returning to the sections of the book companions where these issues are addressed.Whatever sources you use, you will need to keep detailed references and a clear note of where you found them. As you are aware, references are vital in any piece of academic work and help to avoid any suggestion of plagiarism, as well as enabling other readers and researchers to access the sources themselves. As your analysis proceeds, you may wish to go back and look at a document again, and you will save yourself vital time and trouble if you know exactly where to find it.Having explored the ways in which you select documents, we will now (re)turn to some of the ways in which you can develop an analysis of your chosen documents.Developing an analysisAnalysis is a key part of any piece of research. The material your investigation has generated does not speak for itself. You need to work with it, ask questions of it, make connections between the material and your initial research questions, and draw out the relationship between theory and policy in your material and, for the specific purposes of this TMA, explore its relationship to one or more of the module themes. You should aim to make connections between one piece of material and another, look at their worth and make judgements about them in order to draw conclusions in relation to your research question(s) and to convey all this information to your readers. This is what we mean when we talk about the analysis stage of documentary research.For example, if you plan to structure your TMA around a critical analysis of a particular policy document, it is important to give attention to the original document, but also to related sources so that you are not reliant solely on the interpretation of (privileged) others and are aware of relevant debates about the topic(s) it is addressing. As discussed, there are always questions that need to be asked of documents, and policy documents in particular, such as how they relate to the overall debate in a given area, why they were produced, by whom and when, what kind of evidence they draw on in presenting their arguments, what they include, what they exclude and what they reveal about dominant assumptions in the field.There are a number of recognised methods for using and analysing documents in the social sciences, and these can be categorised differently depending on the approach of particular authors to research methods. Here, for our purposes, we can outline five approaches to studying documents in the social sciences:1.studying documents for descriptive and explanatory purposes2.content analysis3.discourse analysis4.viewing documents as ‘actors’ in their own right5.identifying the political nature of how particular issues come to be deemed worthy of sustained research attention, whereas others are relatively ignored.Previous: Developing an analysisDescriptive analysisStudying documents for descriptive and explanatory purposes might involve identifying trends, whether past, present or future, exploring approaches and responses to particular social issues and comparing these across time and place. Document study enables us to bring together evidence from a number of studies and to re-examine evidence previously gathered. You may already have noted that in order to move from the level of description to the level of explanation, the empirical ‘evidence’ contained within documents alone will not suffice. More in-depth discussion and attempts at explanation require the use of theory and concepts, even though these may not always be made explicit. In particular, you should not expect the policy document(s) that you use for your independent essay to ‘speak for themselves’; you will need to make use of module themes and concepts and to draw on theoretical approaches that relate to your topic in order to situate and make sense of them.Content analysisContent analysis is the study of the content of texts. Texts may involve words, but they may also be pictures, recorded media such as film, television, radio and DVD, and underlying meanings. Quantitative content analysis aims at the systematic measurement of particular features of the chosen texts, whereas qualitative analysis concentrates more on meanings and interpretations, although content analysis will often include both quantitative and qualitative approaches.The kinds of aspects that might be measured quantitatively using content analysis include frequency of mention or representation of a particular topic or group of people (e.g. street crime rather than white-collar crime, or the activities of illegal drug users rather than those of pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession); amount of time, space or attention given to these topics or groups; and location and timing of reference to particular topics or groups. (For example, do we see frequent representations of illegal drug use on mainstream television programmes, including the news, and in mass-market newspapers? Are the activities of pharmaceutical companies more likely to be discussed in minority interest publications?)In order for quantitative content analysis to go beyond description and into explanation, concepts and theories are needed. Thus, we might be able to suggest why and how things appear as they do, rather than simply counting them.Qualitative content analysis takes this further and goes beyond the immediately visible. It will involve a more detailed and in-depth consideration of texts. These might be investigated for their ideological influences and nuances; their underlying or ‘hidden’ meanings; their origins, purpose, context and intended audience(s); and the extent to which they give voice to particular cultural codes, norms and attitudes.A specific form of qualitative content analysis, which grew in influence during the late twentieth century and early this century, is discourse analysis.Discourse analysisDiscourse analysis is particularly concerned with the role of language and texts and the ways in which reality is constructed through them. Discourses are frameworks of meaning that are produced in certain cultures at certain times. They encompass ways of thinking, talking about and doing things; in other words, they operate not just through language but also in actual material practices, such as how we treat people who break the law. We can also go beyond looking at these practices to examine how particular discourses act to produce particular outcomes. For example, we could ask how legislation to control borders creates particular categories of ‘problem’ or criminal individuals and groups, ranging from economic migrants to drug and people traffickers and ‘terrorists’. Discourse analysis focuses on these frameworks of meaning as they come to us through language and texts of all kinds. Discourses contain information about what is seen as desirable or undesirable, appropriate or inappropriate, criminal or permitted, in ways that both reflect social context and work to construct it.There are many types of discourse analysis, commonly focusing on interactions between individuals and groups, identities and the shaping of ‘selves’, and social and cultural understandings and practices. We are particularly concerned with discourse analysis as it relates to the study of documents, where the emphasis is on interpretive and deconstructive readings of texts and where language has a value in itself. Such readings do not enable us to find concrete answers to particular criminological ‘problems’, but do enable us to explore the ways in which ‘problems’ are established and require particular solutions. We can also explore the existence of competing discourses and the significance of power. Using discourse analysis through detailed examination of the language of a document and any recurring patterns in its organisation and structure, we can ask what assumptions are being made, what is left out or concealed, what particular frameworks for making sense of the world (discourses) are being called upon and what contradictions and competing discourses can be found in this or other relevant documents. It is not possible to carry out this kind of investigation without some familiarity with existing conceptual and theoretical frameworks, and the best way to get practice in doing it is to read other examples of discourse analysis.Documents as ‘actors’In addition to the methods for analysing documents outlined above, you might like to think about the growing interest in the ways in which documents should not be seen simply in terms of providing us with evidence, but should also be considered as actors in their own right. This might seem a rather strange idea at first, but what is being argued here is that documents are not just containers of content. We can look at the ways in which documents circulate and how they are used and can make an impact in particular settings. The same document might be received and used differently in different settings, and documents might function as, for example, allies, opposition, rule setters and decision makers. In this way, they can be said to play an active rather than a passive part in social interaction and social organisation. These ideas are taken from Lindsay Prior (2008) and draw on actor-network theory (ANT), which overturns the traditional distinction between humans and non-humans and sees both as actors forming part of social networks. You do not need to get into the detail of this approach, but if you are particularly interested in it, you might like to read Prior’s article. The full reference is:Prior, L. (2008) ‘Repositioning documents in social research’, Sociology, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 821–36.You might want to think about incorporating elements of such an approach into your independent essay. How have the documents you have selected for study been used as part of interaction and/or organisation around a particular issue?The politics of documentary researchIn 2000, Gordon Hughes accurately observed that students of criminology may read published reports, journal articles and books and consider that the production of criminological knowledge is a straightforward and systematic process. He argued that the finished product may appear as a neat and ‘tidy picture’, without revealing the often complicated, controlled and ‘political’ nature of actually conducting research and publishing findings. What does this mean? It means that researchers may encounter obstacles and difficulties that are often part-and-parcel of the research process. Such things as gaining access to government or corporate documentation or personnel, seeking ethical clearances, securing financial support, negotiating contractual ambiguities and publishing outcomes are often fraught with intervention by individuals in positions of power and authority who seek to monitor or control the production of knowledge that may threaten their vested interests (Walters, 2003). Sometimes, documents or statistics may not exist or are held across various institutions and are not available for public consumption. If you choose as your topic corporate crime or eco crime, for example, you may find that although there are many websites, such as Corporate Watch, that attempt to keep information in the public domain, small or large corporations are able to protect their ‘commercial secrets’ through law.Of course, the difficulties you encounter while conducting criminological research are findings in themselves and serve to assist others in the trials and tribulations of conducting research. Therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that conducting criminological research often involves investigating and revealing issues of sensitivity. It is often hard work and you may sometimes encounter legal, ethical, moral and institutional dilemmas that are not always apparent in the pages of books or journal articles. These political aspects to conducting criminological research can often make it a very difficult process that requires the application of perseverance, guidance and, of course, skill to what is often a challenging, frustrating but very enjoyable and worthwhile journey.Unpacking document analysisIn this section we will return to the document Home Office Development and Practice Report, Defining and Measuring Anti-social Behaviour (Harradine et al., 2004). Below we reproduce a short section from this document in order to describe how you might begin analysis.People’s understanding of what constitutes anti-social behaviour (ASB) is determined by a series of factors including context, location, community tolerance and quality of life expectations (Nixon et al., 2003 Developing Good Practice in Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour in Mixed Tenure Areas. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University). As a result, what may be considered anti-social behaviour to one person can be seen as acceptable behaviour to another. The subjective nature of the concept makes it difficult to identify a single definition of anti-social behaviour.(Harradine et al., 2004, p. 3)So how might this extract be analysed? We demonstrate this in the table below.Using themes and concepts and applying theoryYou will already be aware through your university studies that your modules and your tutors stress the need to use theories and explain ideas conceptually, and that these two put together somehow link to what is called an analytical approach to thinking and writing. This is no less true of your independent essay, and one of the core skills we are assessing is your ability to use theory and a chosen concept to inform your writing. But what does it mean to ‘use theory’ and ‘use a concept’ to inform your writing? What is theory, and what is a concept?In this section, we will try to unpack theories and concepts and why they are important for your independent essay and your studies in general. In addition, we will look at how you will be expected to use them in your independent essay.A theory is a complex and interrelated set of ideas that aims to explain a particular phenomenon. For example, in Chapter 3 on cybercrime in Book 1, Crime: Local and Global, the following theory is offered in order to explain people’s attraction to what are often referred to as violent computer games and internet websites:It is in this context that the perspectives offered by cultural criminology are particularly useful. Rather than focusing on instrumental criminal behaviour (i.e. criminal acts committed for material gain), cultural criminology is much more interested in the relationship between the emotional content of criminal and deviant behaviours and the socio-cultures of late modern societies … This means that, for cultural criminologists such as Jeff Ferrell (1999), Mike Presdee (2000) and Keith Hayward (2004), criminal and illicit behaviours – joy riding, vandalism, peer group violence, recreational drug use, and so forth – are both transgressive and excitement driven. The pleasures seemingly offered by such rule-breaking behaviours have to be analysed in the terms of the interplay between these behaviours and the particular norms and values of contemporary Western societies.(Neal, 2010, p. 93)Theories of late modernityThe theory offered by cultural criminologists is that we live in a period of history known as late modernity. Late modernity describes a transition to postmodernity – a description given to advanced Western societies whose social systems are no longer based on the production of goods, that activity having moved to the developing world, particularly China, Taiwan and India. Rather, they are based on the mass consumption of goods, whether these are financial services, cultural or media-related goods, and underpinned by the dominance of the financial services that circulate money products globally, by financial speculation and by symbolic industries such as the mass media and other forms of cultural production that are globally interconnected.Central to theories of late modernity then, is the global movement of finance, culture and people that has been summarised as ‘globalisation’. The rise of the global ‘free market’ in goods, culture and people has signalled a retreat by national governments in their attempt to control and regulate societies and economies – government attempts to over-tax or over-regulate business, finance and labour markets will entail the movement of production elsewhere. Hence one of the hallmarks of late modernity is the penetration of market values and consumerism into ‘governance’ – the regulation of society. Associated with late modern societies is mass consumption; for cultural criminologists, mass consumption and confusions of identity lead people to commit transgressive acts, whether these are ‘binge drinking’, joy riding or more serious crimes committed for reasons of pleasure and excitement.What is a concept?If this is a theory, what is a concept? A concept is a word or phrase, or more precisely a general notion or abstract idea, that summarises and describes the general thrust of a theory. In the above example, we might think of ‘transgression’ as being a concept, because it describes in one word all the essentials of the perspective of cultural criminologists. We can also describe ‘late modernity’ as a concept, in that it has been used by sociologists to describe the kinds of social changes outlined in the previous paragraph. The module themes of power, harm and violence, and local and global relations are also concepts, and you are required to use at least one of these in your essay. This of course should not preclude the use of other concepts, which you may also refer to in your essay.Understanding how topics, themes, concepts and evidence work togetherUsing the example of mass imprisonment in the table below, let us look more closely at how topics, module themes, concepts and evidence work together. Your chosen theme and the theories associated with it are there to inform your essay. To take the example used in the table below, you could explain the relevance and impact of harm and violence by using the concept of ‘a punitive turn’ to explain the drift towards mass imprisonment in some democratic countries. You will see also in this table a list of theoretical perspectives that are associated with the concept. Lastly, you will see a column explaining how evidence relates to the topic, module theme, concept and theory. The most important thing is to use effectively the module theme you have chosen, making use of other concepts, theories and evidence to do soTMA 05 Learning outcomesTMA 03 and TMA 05 jointly assess students on a range of basic and higher-level research skills.Students are assessed on their ability to:•know how to search for materials such as journal articles and other kinds of academically relevant documents and Web-based materials•know how to assess the relevance of different kinds of evidence for their own research•use module materials effectively to source further relevant reading•read and synthesise material from secondary research sources•develop an outline (or research proposal) that will guide subsequent research.In addition to the above, TMA 05 assesses students’ abilities to:•synthesise a range of different materials in a coherent written form•mobilise evidence to support an argument or research•use and critically apply theory to a chosen research topic•use different methodological approaches to critically interrogate policy and other relevant documents, including the politics of research as it is concerned with documentary material.What should the independent essay look like?The independent essay is similar in style to a normal essay, with some exceptions. First, it is longer, at approximately 4000 words. Second, you should expect to look for ways to organise your essay effectively, with subsections that represent the different questions you have attempted to address. Third, you will need to make sure that you have:•included an introduction that clearly outlines the topic area and the questions you are exploring, your overall argument and your planned essay structure (this is called ‘signposting’, and you should return to your questions and plan throughout your essay)•used relevant concepts and theories to explore your topic area•used different types of evidence to support your investigations – for example, statistics, research and case studies; these will be drawn from existing sources (usually referred to as ‘secondary research’)•used at least one policy document to illustrate and provide evidence for your arguments; in addition, you will need to show some evidence of being able to critically assess such a document or documents•considered briefly how the ‘politics of research’ may have influenced your access to knowledge•included a conclusion that summarises your ‘findings’•included a full reference list, in the Harvard style.In the Book 2 companion you looked at the following skills:1.identifying theory2.applying theory to research and evidence3.writing critically about theory and research evidence4.considering ethical issues and the politics of research5.thinking critically about documents6.using module concepts7.synthesising different materials in writing.These skills will be important in completing your TMA 05 independent essay, and if you are not yet comfortable with using them you may wish to revisit them now.Completing the independent essayHow to write a review of the fieldIn TMA 03 you should have already identified and summarised some sources of relevant literature. You may now be in a position to expand on this, or perhaps to realise that some of the literature you have selected previously may not be as relevant as you first thought.This section explores what a literature review is, what it is for, and how to write up your chosen literature for your independent essay.Being able to review a range of literature on a subject is a skill required both as part of university studies and increasingly in jobs that involve a certain amount of research or report writing. What is called a ‘literature review’ is an exercise in demonstrating that you are familiar with a range of literature in your chosen topic area and that you are able to make links between the literature, while at the same time acknowledging that within particular fields of study there may be differences of opinion and debate. The kinds of questions you need to ask when reviewing academic and other research and writing on a particular topic area are:•How might I summarise the points of view being expressed in writing and research on a particular topic? Are there similarities and differences between them?•In what ways are these perspectives convincing in terms of argument or evidential claims? Does my own research or writing add to the weight of literature available?•Are there any problems or gaps in research and writing conducted in this field, and in what ways could I contribute to highlighting these gaps or exploring them in more detail?We certainly do not expect you to know everything that has been written about a particular topic. What we do expect is that you can show that you can search for relevant material; that you can accurately express the arguments you find there, whether in terms of ideas or research findings; and that you are able to show some critical ability in assessing those ideas and research findings. For TMA 05 there is no set limit to the number of sources that you might wish to cite. While the questions noted above might go some way beyond these expectations, they are nevertheless questions worth bearing in mind.This section explores the following:•What sort of approach should you take to the literature?•In what ways should a review of literature be written?What sort of approach should you take to the literature?Having selected a range of sources, the issue remains as to how to use them. Doing a review of literature is not the same as writing an essay, although there may be some similarities, such as critical analysis and accurate and well-referenced presentation of ideas and research. A literature review is different because it tends to be more succinct and summative, on the one hand, and aims to be a rounded presentation of the nature of writing and research on the topic area, on the other. It is really asking you to understand what the field ‘looks like’: the core themes, the criticisms, and what may be missing from work conducted so far. This should become clearer when we look at an example of how literature reviews are written.In what ways should a review of literature be written?The best way to start this discussion is with an illustration. The following extract is taken from an article by Lois Wacquant, published in 2001, on the relationship between race and mass imprisonment in the USA. We will assess the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the way in which the literature is written up. He begins by outlining what he calls ‘three brute facts’ (Wacquant, 2001, p. 96): first, that African Americans make up the majority of those incarcerated in the USA; second, that the rate of incarceration for African Americans has soared, so that, as Wacquant estimates, ‘upwards of one-third of African-American men find themselves behind bars, on probation or on parole’ (p. 96); and third, that there is a growing gulf between the imprisonment rate of African-American and white people in America, ‘where blacks are 35 times more likely than whites to be put behind bars in 1994’ (p. 96). With this in mind, he goes on to say the following.These grim statistics are well-known and agreed among students of crime and justice – though they have been steadfastly ignored or minimized by analysts of urban poverty and policy, who have yet to register the enormously disruptive impact that imprisonment has on low-income black communities, as shown by Miller (1997). What remains in dispute are the causes and mechanisms driving this sudden ‘blackening’ which has turned the carceral system into one of the few national institutions dominated by African Americans, alongside professional sports and selected sectors of the entertainments industry. Most analysts have focused on trends in crime and endeavoured to deconstruct the source of black over-representation in prison by sorting and sifting through patterns of criminality, bias in arrest, prosecution, and sentencing, and prior criminal records (see Blumstein, 1993, for a model study, and Tonry,1995, pp.56–79, for a vigorous and rigorous review). A few have expanded their compass to measure the influence of such non-judicial variables as the size of the black population, the poverty rate, unemployment, inflation, income, value of welfare payments, region, support for religious fundamentalism, and political party in office (e.g. Lessan, 1991; Yates, 1997; Greenberg and West, 1999). But none of these factors, taken separately or jointly, accounts for the sheer magnitude, rapidity, and timing of the recent racialisation of US imprisonment, especially as crime rates have been flat and later declining over that period. For this, it is necessary, first, to take a longer historical view and, second, to break out of the narrow ‘crime-and-punishment’ paradigm to reckon the extra-penological role of the penal system for the management of dispossessed and dishonoured groups.ReferencesBlumstein, Alfred (1993) ‘Racial disproportionality of US prison revisited’. University of Colorado Law Review 64: 743–760.Greenberg, David and Valerie West (1999) ‘Growth of state prison populations, 1971–1991’. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Law and Society Association, Chicago, May.Lessan, Gloria T. (1991) ‘Macro-economic determinants of penal policy: Estimating the unemployment and inflation influences on imprisonment rate changes in the United States, 1948–1985’. Crime, Law and Social Change 16(2): 177–198.Miller, Jerome G. (1997) Search and destroy: African-American males in the criminal justice system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Tonry, Michael (1995) Malign neglect: Race, class, and punishment in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Yates, Jeff (1997) ‘Racial incarceration disparity among states’. Social Science Quarterly 78–4 (December): 1001–1010.(Wacquant, 2001, pp. 96–7)Using the extract to construct a literature reviewWe can use this extract to see how to construct a literature review. First, it contains no elongated quotations or in-depth discussions of a particular theory; rather, it succinctly summarises the various schools of thought and the referenced key sources. Second, it uses these sources to look at what is missing from the debate so far – that research conducted on this issue has not really accounted for the startling rate of imprisonment for African Americans in recent years – and what alternative theory the author offers. This demonstrates some crucial learning points for your independent essay: first, that you do not need to quote extensively to get across a sense of an author’s position; second, that you can look for links between authors, which can be cast as ‘schools of thought’; and third, that you can critically assess these positions in order to illustrate what you plan to do.One of the questions you may be asking yourself at this point concerns the difference between a ‘literature review’ and the complete TMA. Surely, as the whole piece of work is based on existing published work (as opposed to being a report of some ‘new’ or what is sometimes called ‘empirical’ research), it is simply an extended literature review? What is the point of having a separate section at the beginning purporting to be a review of the literature?This is a common problem encountered by students and established academics alike, where findings are based on ‘secondary’ or previously published resources. There are at least two ways of dealing with this problem. The first method is to acknowledge that a separate literature section at the beginning of your TMA is a literature review within a literature review by treating it as a distinct part of the essay. It becomes an introductory section that sets up the question and the literature you are going to draw upon and acts as a means of identifying ‘the problem’ you are going to tackle. The aim is to provide a platform upon which the main ideas that will be explored later in the essay are set up; the platform is a starting point for the more developed arguments that will come later in the essay. A second method is to acknowledge that there is a field of literature upon which the main arguments you are going to develop are based and to simply ‘dive into’ the debate, without having a separate heading of ‘literature review’. Either of these approaches is acceptable for TMA 05, but you must remember that the aim is not only to cover the main literature and use it effectively to back up your debates, but also to summarise it succinctly and to assess it critically, as outlined and illustrated above.Selecting and analysing documents and textsDocument analysis is often used as part of an overall research design that might also include, for example, interviews, survey research, observation and ethnography. In this case, however, we are not asking you to generate primary data through the use of techniques such as interviews and observation. Rather, we are asking you to concentrate on finding, selecting and critically analysing documents that have significance for the study of a particular topic in crime and criminal justice. In addition to academic journal articles, some of these might be ‘policy’ documents in the traditional sense, such as government papers, legislative outlines and policy and practice guidelines from statutory bodies, as well as documents produced by transnational bodies such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN). We are not, however, suggesting that you restrict yourself to such ‘official’ documents. You might also want – and need – to take into consideration documents produced by campaigning groups and social movements, as well as journals and newspapers.Selecting documentsYou have already been introduced to some useful resources to help you in your search for and selection of documents to analyse in your independent essay. The documents on the module website are a useful starting point. You may also have done a basic internet search of key words for your chosen topic. For TMA 05, such searches should be more extensive and systematic in order to generate your own material for analysis. Remember that not all search engines are equally useful. Some may generate thousands of documents, relatively indiscriminately, and many of these may not be useful for academic work. You may already have come across a number of useful resources, particularly through the Open University (OU) Library or via external websites, and you should by now have a feeling for which of these might be particularly helpful to you. If you are still unsure about this, you might like to revisit the sections of the book companions that introduced and developed document search skills.Your work on the book companions should also have alerted you to the need to think about whether the authors are defending a particular point of view, how the arguments, research findings or examples put forward in the document relate to other material in the same field, whether any evidence put forward is well researched or whether there are any obvious omissions or biases. You may wish to refresh your memory on reading critically by returning to the sections of the book companions where these issues are addressed.Whatever sources you use, you will need to keep detailed references and a clear note of where you found them. As you are aware, references are vital in any piece of academic work and help to avoid any suggestion of plagiarism, as well as enabling other readers and researchers to access the sources themselves. As your analysis proceeds, you may wish to go back and look at a document again, and you will save yourself vital time and trouble if you know exactly where to find it.Having explored the ways in which you select documents, we will now (re)turn to some of the ways in which you can develop an analysis of your chosen documents.Developing an analysisAnalysis is a key part of any piece of research. The material your investigation has generated does not speak for itself. You need to work with it, ask questions of it, make connections between the material and your initial research questions, and draw out the relationship between theory and policy in your material and, for the specific purposes of this TMA, explore its relationship to one or more of the module themes. You should aim to make connections between one piece of material and another, look at their worth and make judgements about them in order to draw conclusions in relation to your research question(s) and to convey all this information to your readers. This is what we mean when we talk about the analysis stage of documentary research.For example, if you plan to structure your TMA around a critical analysis of a particular policy document, it is important to give attention to the original document, but also to related sources so that you are not reliant solely on the interpretation of (privileged) others and are aware of relevant debates about the topic(s) it is addressing. As discussed, there are always questions that need to be asked of documents, and policy documents in particular, such as how they relate to the overall debate in a given area, why they were produced, by whom and when, what kind of evidence they draw on in presenting their arguments, what they include, what they exclude and what they reveal about dominant assumptions in the field.There are a number of recognised methods for using and analysing documents in the social sciences, and these can be categorised differently depending on the approach of particular authors to research methods. Here, for our purposes, we can outline five approaches to studying documents in the social sciences:1.studying documents for descriptive and explanatory purposes2.content analysis3.discourse analysis4.viewing documents as ‘actors’ in their own right5.identifying the political nature of how particular issues come to be deemed worthy of sustained research attention, whereas others are relatively ignored.Previous: Developing an analysisDescriptive analysisStudying documents for descriptive and explanatory purposes might involve identifying trends, whether past, present or future, exploring approaches and responses to particular social issues and comparing these across time and place. Document study enables us to bring together evidence from a number of studies and to re-examine evidence previously gathered. You may already have noted that in order to move from the level of description to the level of explanation, the empirical ‘evidence’ contained within documents alone will not suffice. More in-depth discussion and attempts at explanation require the use of theory and concepts, even though these may not always be made explicit. In particular, you should not expect the policy document(s) that you use for your independent essay to ‘speak for themselves’; you will need to make use of module themes and concepts and to draw on theoretical approaches that relate to your topic in order to situate and make sense of them.Content analysisContent analysis is the study of the content of texts. Texts may involve words, but they may also be pictures, recorded media such as film, television, radio and DVD, and underlying meanings. Quantitative content analysis aims at the systematic measurement of particular features of the chosen texts, whereas qualitative analysis concentrates more on meanings and interpretations, although content analysis will often include both quantitative and qualitative approaches.The kinds of aspects that might be measured quantitatively using content analysis include frequency of mention or representation of a particular topic or group of people (e.g. street crime rather than white-collar crime, or the activities of illegal drug users rather than those of pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession); amount of time, space or attention given to these topics or groups; and location and timing of reference to particular topics or groups. (For example, do we see frequent representations of illegal drug use on mainstream television programmes, including the news, and in mass-market newspapers? Are the activities of pharmaceutical companies more likely to be discussed in minority interest publications?)In order for quantitative content analysis to go beyond description and into explanation, concepts and theories are needed. Thus, we might be able to suggest why and how things appear as they do, rather than simply counting them.Qualitative content analysis takes this further and goes beyond the immediately visible. It will involve a more detailed and in-depth consideration of texts. These might be investigated for their ideological influences and nuances; their underlying or ‘hidden’ meanings; their origins, purpose, context and intended audience(s); and the extent to which they give voice to particular cultural codes, norms and attitudes.A specific form of qualitative content analysis, which grew in influence during the late twentieth century and early this century, is discourse analysis.Discourse analysisDiscourse analysis is particularly concerned with the role of language and texts and the ways in which reality is constructed through them. Discourses are frameworks of meaning that are produced in certain cultures at certain times. They encompass ways of thinking, talking about and doing things; in other words, they operate not just through language but also in actual material practices, such as how we treat people who break the law. We can also go beyond looking at these practices to examine how particular discourses act to produce particular outcomes. For example, we could ask how legislation to control borders creates particular categories of ‘problem’ or criminal individuals and groups, ranging from economic migrants to drug and people traffickers and ‘terrorists’. Discourse analysis focuses on these frameworks of meaning as they come to us through language and texts of all kinds. Discourses contain information about what is seen as desirable or undesirable, appropriate or inappropriate, criminal or permitted, in ways that both reflect social context and work to construct it.There are many types of discourse analysis, commonly focusing on interactions between individuals and groups, identities and the shaping of ‘selves’, and social and cultural understandings and practices. We are particularly concerned with discourse analysis as it relates to the study of documents, where the emphasis is on interpretive and deconstructive readings of texts and where language has a value in itself. Such readings do not enable us to find concrete answers to particular criminological ‘problems’, but do enable us to explore the ways in which ‘problems’ are established and require particular solutions. We can also explore the existence of competing discourses and the significance of power. Using discourse analysis through detailed examination of the language of a document and any recurring patterns in its organisation and structure, we can ask what assumptions are being made, what is left out or concealed, what particular frameworks for making sense of the world (discourses) are being called upon and what contradictions and competing discourses can be found in this or other relevant documents. It is not possible to carry out this kind of investigation without some familiarity with existing conceptual and theoretical frameworks, and the best way to get practice in doing it is to read other examples of discourse analysis.Documents as ‘actors’In addition to the methods for analysing documents outlined above, you might like to think about the growing interest in the ways in which documents should not be seen simply in terms of providing us with evidence, but should also be considered as actors in their own right. This might seem a rather strange idea at first, but what is being argued here is that documents are not just containers of content. We can look at the ways in which documents circulate and how they are used and can make an impact in particular settings. The same document might be received and used differently in different settings, and documents might function as, for example, allies, opposition, rule setters and decision makers. In this way, they can be said to play an active rather than a passive part in social interaction and social organisation. These ideas are taken from Lindsay Prior (2008) and draw on actor-network theory (ANT), which overturns the traditional distinction between humans and non-humans and sees both as actors forming part of social networks. You do not need to get into the detail of this approach, but if you are particularly interested in it, you might like to read Prior’s article. The full reference is:Prior, L. (2008) ‘Repositioning documents in social research’, Sociology, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 821–36.You might want to think about incorporating elements of such an approach into your independent essay. How have the documents you have selected for study been used as part of interaction and/or organisation around a particular issue?The politics of documentary researchIn 2000, Gordon Hughes accurately observed that students of criminology may read published reports, journal articles and books and consider that the production of criminological knowledge is a straightforward and systematic process. He argued that the finished product may appear as a neat and ‘tidy picture’, without revealing the often complicated, controlled and ‘political’ nature of actually conducting research and publishing findings. What does this mean? It means that researchers may encounter obstacles and difficulties that are often part-and-parcel of the research process. Such things as gaining access to government or corporate documentation or personnel, seeking ethical clearances, securing financial support, negotiating contractual ambiguities and publishing outcomes are often fraught with intervention by individuals in positions of power and authority who seek to monitor or control the production of knowledge that may threaten their vested interests (Walters, 2003). Sometimes, documents or statistics may not exist or are held across various institutions and are not available for public consumption. If you choose as your topic corporate crime or eco crime, for example, you may find that although there are many websites, such as Corporate Watch, that attempt to keep information in the public domain, small or large corporations are able to protect their ‘commercial secrets’ through law.Of course, the difficulties you encounter while conducting criminological research are findings in themselves and serve to assist others in the trials and tribulations of conducting research. Therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that conducting criminological research often involves investigating and revealing issues of sensitivity. It is often hard work and you may sometimes encounter legal, ethical, moral and institutional dilemmas that are not always apparent in the pages of books or journal articles. These political aspects to conducting criminological research can often make it a very difficult process that requires the application of perseverance, guidance and, of course, skill to what is often a challenging, frustrating but very enjoyable and worthwhile journey.Unpacking document analysisIn this section we will return to the document Home Office Development and Practice Report, Defining and Measuring Anti-social Behaviour (Harradine et al., 2004). Below we reproduce a short section from this document in order to describe how you might begin analysis.People’s understanding of what constitutes anti-social behaviour (ASB) is determined by a series of factors including context, location, community tolerance and quality of life expectations (Nixon et al., 2003 Developing Good Practice in Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour in Mixed Tenure Areas. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University). As a result, what may be considered anti-social behaviour to one person can be seen as acceptable behaviour to another. The subjective nature of the concept makes it difficult to identify a single definition of anti-social behaviour.(Harradine et al., 2004, p. 3)So how might this extract be analysed? We demonstrate this in the table below.Using themes and concepts and applying theoryYou will already be aware through your university studies that your modules and your tutors stress the need to use theories and explain ideas conceptually, and that these two put together somehow link to what is called an analytical approach to thinking and writing. This is no less true of your independent essay, and one of the core skills we are assessing is your ability to use theory and a chosen concept to inform your writing. But what does it mean to ‘use theory’ and ‘use a concept’ to inform your writing? What is theory, and what is a concept?In this section, we will try to unpack theories and concepts and why they are important for your independent essay and your studies in general. In addition, we will look at how you will be expected to use them in your independent essay.A theory is a complex and interrelated set of ideas that aims to explain a particular phenomenon. For example, in Chapter 3 on cybercrime in Book 1, Crime: Local and Global, the following theory is offered in order to explain people’s attraction to what are often referred to as violent computer games and internet websites:It is in this context that the perspectives offered by cultural criminology are particularly useful. Rather than focusing on instrumental criminal behaviour (i.e. criminal acts committed for material gain), cultural criminology is much more interested in the relationship between the emotional content of criminal and deviant behaviours and the socio-cultures of late modern societies … This means that, for cultural criminologists such as Jeff Ferrell (1999), Mike Presdee (2000) and Keith Hayward (2004), criminal and illicit behaviours – joy riding, vandalism, peer group violence, recreational drug use, and so forth – are both transgressive and excitement driven. The pleasures seemingly offered by such rule-breaking behaviours have to be analysed in the terms of the interplay between these behaviours and the particular norms and values of contemporary Western societies.(Neal, 2010, p. 93)Theories of late modernityThe theory offered by cultural criminologists is that we live in a period of history known as late modernity. Late modernity describes a transition to postmodernity – a description given to advanced Western societies whose social systems are no longer based on the production of goods, that activity having moved to the developing world, particularly China, Taiwan and India. Rather, they are based on the mass consumption of goods, whether these are financial services, cultural or media-related goods, and underpinned by the dominance of the financial services that circulate money products globally, by financial speculation and by symbolic industries such as the mass media and other forms of cultural production that are globally interconnected.Central to theories of late modernity then, is the global movement of finance, culture and people that has been summarised as ‘globalisation’. The rise of the global ‘free market’ in goods, culture and people has signalled a retreat by national governments in their attempt to control and regulate societies and economies – government attempts to over-tax or over-regulate business, finance and labour markets will entail the movement of production elsewhere. Hence one of the hallmarks of late modernity is the penetration of market values and consumerism into ‘governance’ – the regulation of society. Associated with late modern societies is mass consumption; for cultural criminologists, mass consumption and confusions of identity lead people to commit transgressive acts, whether these are ‘binge drinking’, joy riding or more serious crimes committed for reasons of pleasure and excitement.What is a concept?If this is a theory, what is a concept? A concept is a word or phrase, or more precisely a general notion or abstract idea, that summarises and describes the general thrust of a theory. In the above example, we might think of ‘transgression’ as being a concept, because it describes in one word all the essentials of the perspective of cultural criminologists. We can also describe ‘late modernity’ as a concept, in that it has been used by sociologists to describe the kinds of social changes outlined in the previous paragraph. The module themes of power, harm and violence, and local and global relations are also concepts, and you are required to use at least one of these in your essay. This of course should not preclude the use of other concepts, which you may also refer to in your essay.Understanding how topics, themes, concepts and evidence work togetherUsing the example of mass imprisonment in the table below, let us look more closely at how topics, module themes, concepts and evidence work together. Your chosen theme and the theories associated with it are there to inform your essay. To take the example used in the table below, you could explain the relevance and impact of harm and violence by using the concept of ‘a punitive turn’ to explain the drift towards mass imprisonment in some democratic countries. You will see also in this table a list of theoretical perspectives that are associated with the concept. Lastly, you will see a column explaining how evidence relates to the topic, module theme, concept and theory. The most important thing is to use effectively the module theme you have chosen, making use of other concepts, theories and evidence to do soTMA 05 Learning outcomesTMA 03 and TMA 05 jointly assess students on a range of basic and higher-level research skills.Students are assessed on their ability to:•know how to search for materials such as journal articles and other kinds of academically relevant documents and Web-based materials•know how to assess the relevance of different kinds of evidence for their own research•use module materials effectively to source further relevant reading•read and synthesise material from secondary research sources•develop an outline (or research proposal) that will guide subsequent research.In addition to the above, TMA 05 assesses students’ abilities to:•synthesise a range of different materials in a coherent written form•mobilise evidence to support an argument or research•use and critically apply theory to a chosen research topic•use different methodological approaches to critically interrogate policy and other relevant documents, including the politics of research as it is concerned with documentary material.

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