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date: 01 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines how criminological researchers can attend to narrative as part of their ethnographic practice. Attention to the narrativity of speech, conversations, and texts pertaining to both individuals and groups has the potential to enrich ethnographic research on crime, criminal justice, and victims/survivors. It accentuates that stories told in field, between research participants—and to the researcher—are paramount for most ethnographic fieldwork. Ethnographers can draw much from contemporary developments in narrative criminology. We outline two insights in particular: talk is a kind of social action that does things and, second, stories motivate and guide behaviour. We review research in narrative criminology to demonstrate the importance of stories for understanding crime and justice: they delineate insiders and outsiders, convey identity, supply know-how, and display criminal capital. Vengeance and violence are also a way to tell or enact stories. This chapter also explores questions of methodology and discusses some practical issues such as how to invite storytelling and how to use recording devices in the field. We conclude with some thoughts about future directions for narrative criminology and ethnography.

Keywords: narrative criminology, stories, fieldwork, narrative ethnography, storytelling

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