Social work

experience and methods

Qualitative research in the penitentiary: convicts’ perspective


In this article by using a literature review method there is a focus on philosophical nature and scientific meaning of a qualitative research, which is carried out with the convicts in the penitentiary. The qualitative research, based on Insider View sociological principle, reveals the perspective of a convicted person who experiences social stigma and allows us to know his/her subjective experience. Therefore, such a research, focused on human experience recognition, is based on social constructionism ontology and phenomenological episthemology.
In the article it is written about the logic of Participatory Action Research, its scientific value and practical meaning for the convicts in the penitentiary. Participatory Action Research is based on the principles of social involvement, empowerment and change, when the research participants, the convicts themselves, become active characters who solve their own social problems. Participatory Action Research, increasing the research participants/convicts' consciousness, makes an opportunity for them to generate the ideas of social change in a team and create together the strategy which could improve their situation.
In the qualitative research an informant/convict is perceived as an important participant of a research process, expressing subjective meanings of a social reality; therefore, he is valued as an investigator of social world phenomena and as the best expert of his own experience and life. The qualitative research validity in order to guarantee the reliability of the conclusions is achieved by using member checking, i.e. involving informants as active participants into the analysis of the obtained data and the process of creating research results.


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