Law for ethnographers

Elliott, T and Fleetwood, J. 2017. Law for ethnographers. Methodological Innovations, 10(1), pp. 1-13. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Despite a long history of ethnographic research on crime, ethnographers have shied away from examining the law as it relates to being present at, witnessing and recording illegal activity. However, knowledge of the law is an essential tool for researchers and the future of ethnographic research on crime. This article reviews the main relevant legal statutes in England and Wales and considers their relevance for contemporary ethnographic research. We report that researchers have no legal responsibility to report criminal activity (with some exceptions). The circumstances under which legal action could be taken to seize research data are specific and limited, and respondent’s privacy is subject to considerable legal protection. Our review gives considerable reason to be optimistic about the future of ethnographic research.

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30 August 2017Published Online

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Date Deposited:

09 Oct 2017 11:46

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:35

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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