Shadow writing and participant observation:a study of criminal justice social work around sentencing

Halliday, Simon and Burns, Nicola and Hutton, Neil and McNeill, Fergus and Tata, Cyrus (2008) Shadow writing and participant observation:a study of criminal justice social work around sentencing. Journal of Law and Society, 35 (2). pp. 189-213. ISSN 0263-323X

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Abstract

The study of decision-making by public officials in administrative settings has been a mainstay of law and society scholarship for decades. The methodological challenges posed by this research agenda are well understood: how can socio-legal researchers get inside the heads of legal decision-makers in order to understand the uses of official discretion? This article describes an ethnographic technique the authors developed to help them penetrate the decision-making practices of criminal justice social workers in writing pre-sentence reports for the courts. This technique, called shadow writing, involved a particular form of participant observation whereby the researcher mimicked the process of report writing in parallel with the social workers. By comparing these shadow reports with the real reports in a training-like setting, the social workers revealed in detail the subtleties of their communicative strategies embedded in particular reports and their sensibilities about report writing more generally

Item Type: Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Law and Society
Uncontrolled Keywords: /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3308
Subjects:
Departments: Faculty of Health and Medicine > Medicine
ID Code: 79578
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 17 May 2016 09:58
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2020 04:53
URI: https://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/79578

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