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Understanding the vicarious trauma and emotional labour of criminological research


Moran, RJ and Asquith, NL, Understanding the vicarious trauma and emotional labour of criminological research, Methodological Innovations pp. 1-11. ISSN 2059-7991 (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1177/2059799120926085


The psychological cost of exposure to traumatic events is receiving greater recognition in recent years, especially in terms of its impact in helping professions and emergency services. However, the costs to researchers remain relatively unexplored. In this article, we will discuss the nature and impact of vicarious trauma using two criminological research projects as case studies: one a qualitative project engaging with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and the other, a quantitative analysis of police hate crime reports. In addition to considering the trauma elicited in fieldwork such as interviews, we interrogate the costs imposed on researchers during the coding and analysing processes. We suggest that the cost is potentially greater when the researcher has a personal connection with the issues being researched, but that this personal experience also provides the researcher with important skills for responding to new or compounded trauma. The costs of engagement with trauma may be compensated by the productive outputs and impact on policy and practice that this type of research may elicit. Understanding the impact and costs of engaging with close analyses of trauma is critical in developing more robust and ethical research processes to ensure that this trauma is appropriately managed so as to avert the long-term damage this work can inflict on researchers and participants.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:vicarious trauma, emotional labour, sexual abuse, hate crime, research methodology
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociological methodology and research methods
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Ability and disability
UTAS Author:Asquith, NL (Professor Nicole Asquith)
ID Code:140838
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Policing and Emergency Management
Deposited On:2020-09-11
Last Modified:2020-10-16
Downloads:17 View Download Statistics

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