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Corruption, impunity and mistrust: moving beyond police gatekeepers for researching gangs

Corruption, impunity and mistrust: moving beyond police gatekeepers for researching gangs This paper aims to discuss the importance of having several entry points into the field, via gatekeepers who do not belong to law enforcement agencies, in contexts where the police cannot be defined as trustworthy.Design/methodology/approachThe argumentation of this paper is based on qualitative research on women and gangs in Honduras. An ethnographical methodology was implemented, which included over a year of observations, 65 interviews and two focus groups in gang-controlled communities and detention centers in Central America (with a focus on Honduras), between 2017 and 2020. The paper implements a feminist reflexive approach, focusing on patriarchy, positionality and silence.FindingsCollaborating with the police as gatekeepers in gang research needs to be reevaluated. In countries such as Honduras, the police are riddled with corruption and impunity, which eventually leads to mistrust among gang members and other citizens. Hence, it is recommended to approach other, non-law enforcement, gatekeepers, who often stand much closer to the gangs and have a less conflicted or biased position toward them and toward other people living in gang areas.Research limitations/implicationsA feminist reflexive approach is recommended for researching women and gangs, and thus also for choosing the right gatekeepers in the field, taking into account researchers’ and gatekeepers’ positionality.Originality/valuePolice corruption in relation to gangs and gang-related crimes often goes unreported and silences people living in gang-controlled areas. This paper exposes these conflicted roles, not only regarding police abuse vis-à-vis gangs and people living in gang areas but also in relation to gang researchers in the field. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research Emerald Publishing

Corruption, impunity and mistrust: moving beyond police gatekeepers for researching gangs

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1759-6599
DOI
10.1108/jacpr-01-2021-0572
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper aims to discuss the importance of having several entry points into the field, via gatekeepers who do not belong to law enforcement agencies, in contexts where the police cannot be defined as trustworthy.Design/methodology/approachThe argumentation of this paper is based on qualitative research on women and gangs in Honduras. An ethnographical methodology was implemented, which included over a year of observations, 65 interviews and two focus groups in gang-controlled communities and detention centers in Central America (with a focus on Honduras), between 2017 and 2020. The paper implements a feminist reflexive approach, focusing on patriarchy, positionality and silence.FindingsCollaborating with the police as gatekeepers in gang research needs to be reevaluated. In countries such as Honduras, the police are riddled with corruption and impunity, which eventually leads to mistrust among gang members and other citizens. Hence, it is recommended to approach other, non-law enforcement, gatekeepers, who often stand much closer to the gangs and have a less conflicted or biased position toward them and toward other people living in gang areas.Research limitations/implicationsA feminist reflexive approach is recommended for researching women and gangs, and thus also for choosing the right gatekeepers in the field, taking into account researchers’ and gatekeepers’ positionality.Originality/valuePolice corruption in relation to gangs and gang-related crimes often goes unreported and silences people living in gang-controlled areas. This paper exposes these conflicted roles, not only regarding police abuse vis-à-vis gangs and people living in gang areas but also in relation to gang researchers in the field.

Journal

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace ResearchEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 24, 2021

Keywords: Reflexivity; Police; Gangs; Gatekeepers; Positionality; Honduras

References