Apprehending criminals: the impact of law on offender-based research
The past quarter century has witnessed the emergence of a rich methodological literature devoted to various ways of tapping into the offender’s perspective on crime. Whatever its virtues, that literature has remained almost wholly atheoretical. We recently introduced a preliminary theory of research grounded in the perspective of pure sociology. In this chapter we seek to extend that theory by examining how law and normative status affect offender-based research. We argue that as more law is applied to actors (i.e. as the normative status of persons or groups declines), the probability that those actors are recruited for offender-based research increases, the amount of remuneration provided to them for participation decreases and the quality of data obtained from them decreases. We conclude by offering theoretically situated, practical advice about the ways in which criminologists might maximise data while minimising costs associated with recruitment and remuneration.