The aim of the research question of our project was to identify in young people, primarily Nottingham Trent University students, their views on hate crime. As hate crime has a long history of events and still has a huge impact on people to-date, it was decided that this would be the chosen topic for the research project. The crime was found to link to criminology in two ways. The issue has factors that fall under both the legal and psychological side of the subject. Hate crime can also be described as “an object of academic study … (which is) … relatively new and (an) under-explored issue, particularly in Britain” (Nathan Hall, 2005), which is another reason this was the chosen topic for the basis of the research project.
For the chosen research project, based on hate crime, the method deemed most appropriate was a structured interview, as it offered both a qualitative and quantitative side and we believed face to face interactions were helpful to gain more accurate screening. Focusing on the quantitative side of the research project, we were able to collect similar types of answers. in which we could make comparisons and could identify a pattern within people’s responses, so we could draw a conclusion. However, it could also be considered as qualitative as the answers were not optional or multiple choice, and instead the interviewees were able to explain their own answers in detail. Fontana and Prokos (2007) suggested that “There is generally little room for variation in response except where open-ended questions (which are infrequent) are used”, influencing our method.
As interviews are an informal way of retrieving information/answers it allows the interviewer/interviewee to gain rapport, as they are then more likely to open up. The informality also helped to seek verbal and non-verbal communication through factors such as body language and the behavioural side of the interviewees. The interviewers are likely to use the same questions, wording and tone of voice which supports the structured side of the interviews, but as they are open-ended questions, they also accept unique and detailed answers, which one would suggest unstructured interviews also offer. Money did not seem to be an issue and funding was not required so the process was fairly quick and easy to carry out.
Quota sampling turned out be the most appropriate choice, as we used a quota of subjects of a certain type to attempt to recruit. The sample used was primarily aimed towards Nottingham Trent Students, so as we interviewed students of the same demographic, we were able to gain easy access by setting up in a nearby shopping centre, which happened to be next to Nottingham Trent University city campus. Within the group, it was decided that we would interview two students each so that we would have a specific sample. As all students interviewed lived in Nottingham, they were all likely to have had the same experiences so this helped the quantitative side of the research to find a pattern.
As hate crime is deemed as a sensitive topic for many, especially the younger generation in our case, we informed the interviewees that there was in no way any pressure to answer certain questions. Although answers to the questions were necessary for us to draw a conclusion, we were able to read body language and behavioural changes, giving us insight in to whether they may have been affected by hate crime in some way, personally or experienced it through someone they may know. As we understood that hate crime is a serious matter, all interviewees were kept anonymous for confidentiality reasons, and also to offer them protection from harm if they were at all affected by this issue. Informed consent was compulsory before we distributed the questions, to maintain the ethics of the research and we made clear to the respondents that they had the right to withdraw.
Reflecting back on the project, it is clear that specific factors worked out better than others, providing a basis for improvements. One major issue was the wording of the questions. The first question we asked was “How would you define a hate crime?”, which is particularly straight forward as the interviewees may not understand what a hate crime is. If this was the case, it would be extremely difficult for them to answer the following questions, as they all relate to hate crime. As we begun to realise that many did not understand the term “hate crime”, we gave them a brief definition which they could work off to answer the standing questions. Although carrying out the interviews themselves were fairly quick, it was not this simple. When you consider the fact that you have to conduct the interview, record and transcribe what was said, it is not always worth the time as respondents generally give the same answers. However, as each of the group only interviewed two people, this helped to hurry the process.
The group work seemed to be one of the biggest issues, as there was constantly a lack of communication, making it feel more like an individual project. This affected necessary discussions about the sample of interviews from each person. Fujishin (2013) stated that “we are often shocked by the lack of cooperation, the inadequacy of preparation, and the poor communication skills of group members”, which we experienced a lot. It was often particularly difficult to arrange meetings to discuss findings which reflected on the time it took to complete the project. With the lack of communication between the group members, there was no support offered, so any difficulties found during the project couldn’t be resolved. For example, we did not provide a deadline for the interviews, so the group members were left unsure of what had been done. Fujishin (2013:82) states that “there should be open communication between all group members”. By using this we could have had a quicker and more effective experience within the project.
Looking back through the responses, several general findings were highlighted. The majority believed that hate crime is a serious crime, in which these respondents tended to give an in-depth answer. This was because they had more of an understanding of the topic and were able to explain to a larger extent. It was noticeable that the students who understood the meaning of hate crime either had experienced a form of hate crime personally or through someone else, but some were not fully aware of what hate crime was and struggled to answer. When asked how to measure the severity of a hate crime, the ones who understood the term said that it would be through the psychological and physical harm caused to the victim and many admitted they felt police should have a more active involvement in hate crimes. The final question of ‘do you think there is a particular community that is targeted with hate crime’, respondents felt that typical victims were ethnic minorities or those typically discriminated against within society. When asked whether they thought hate crime was a big issue in universities, many felt that it was not necessarily in universities that they viewed hate crime to be the most active, but instead saw it as a general issue perceived everywhere.
Overall, from our research, it is clear that Hate crime was perceived as a serious matter, only when respondents understood what the term really meant. For those who were unsure of the meaning, once explained, they also agreed that this was a major issue and not enough is being done about it. Our choice of research method being structured interviews was on one hand to our advantage, as we were able to gain both qualitative and quantitative data. This enabled us to gain detailed responses yet also we could identify patterns to make comparisons out of. However, considering the fact we also had to record and transcribe the answers, it was also quite time-consuming and therefore may not have been the most appropriate choice of research method.
- Fontana, A. and Prokos, A. (2016). The Interview. Routledge, p.19.
- Hall, N. and Croall, H. (2005). Hate crime. Willian Publishing, p.xv.
- Fujishin, R. (2013:82). Creating Effective Groups. 3rd ed. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, inc.
- Fujishin, R. (2013). Creating Effective Groups. 3rd ed. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, inc.
- Bryman, A. (2015). Social Research Methods. 5th ed. Oxford: OXFORD University Press.