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    Emotions and agency in prison research

    Garrihy, Joe (2020) Emotions and agency in prison research. Methodological Innovations, 13 (2). ISSN 2059-7991

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    The emotionality of prison research has received much justified attention in recent years. However, this aspect of undertaking qualitative research is often not considered by early career researchers until they are confronted with the impact of both researching emotionally laden subjects and employing their emotional agency as the researcher. Emerging from this, the authors argue for the development of a methodology that conceives researchers as emotional agents. This methodology incorporates harnessing emotional experiences as a tool for data collection. In this way, researchers are encouraged and trained to shift from passive to active emotional agents. Thus, far from inhibiting the research, the inherent emotionality of conducting research enhances its rigour, integrity and validity. Emotionality is intrinsic to conducting research in the prison milieu. As such, it warrants constructive employment and integration into existing research methodologies. This article draws on the authors’ respective experiences conducting mixed methods research in prison settings. The authors’ research methodologies incorporated emotional reflexivity as a core constituent throughout their data collection, analysis and the writing of their doctoral studies. The argument will be illustrated by detailing experiences of emotional charge during the fieldwork. To reflect this, the authors advocate for the emergence of an integrative methodology. The development of such a methodology would be of value to prison researchers but particularly to novice and/or doctoral researchers. Furthermore, it would be similarly applicable to researchers throughout the field of criminal justice and beyond.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( Cite as: Garrihy J, Watters A. Emotions and agency in prison research. Methodological Innovations. 2020;13(2). doi:10.1177/2059799120926341
    Keywords: Emotions; reflexivity; emotionality in methodology; prison research;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Law
    Item ID: 15477
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Joe Garrihy
    Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2022 15:00
    Journal or Publication Title: Methodological Innovations
    Publisher: Sage Publications
    Refereed: No
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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