5. Methods and Counting Crime

5.5 Operationalization

Dr. Wendelin Hume and Ashly Hanna, B.A.

Now that our concepts have been carefully considered and we know we will be asking questions with either quantitative scaled responses in the financial exploitation example or qualitative open-ended questions in the spirituality abuse example, we need to decide on the specific wording of the questions and the options we provide for possible answers, if any. In deciding on these specifics, we want to be careful not to marginalise the Indigenous elders we are studying.

Most research methodologies in the past, particularly quantitative ones, that have guided most data collection, analysis, and interpretation of data about Indigenous peoples, reflect in an almost invisible way the dominant Western cultural framework. Rather than representing a neutral view of reality, the research constitutes reality influenced by the very way the research questions are conceived in the first place and then how the data are collected and interpreted. Typically, the research efforts lean towards a documentation of not only difference but conclusions of deficit and dysfunction. And so, the people being studied are found to be the problem, and this finding is seldom critiqued. As Deloria (1988, p. 79, emphasis in original) explained it, “an anthropologist comes out to Indian reservations to make OBSERVATIONS. During the winter, those observations will become books by which future anthropologists will be trained, so they can come out to reservations years from now and verify the observations they have studied.”

We also want to design our questions so that our research is reliable. Reliability simply means being consistent. Once we explain how we did our research, someone else doing the same research in the same way should find the same results because our methods and explanations are clear and reliable. Or, if we repeat our measurements, they should yield the same results. This consistency can also be understood as replicability.



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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Wendelin Hume and Ashly Hanna, B.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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