Pushing the boundaries of ethnographic research

Using the power of 'otherness' to positive effect

How do you conduct ethnographic research when customs and beliefs highlight your difference and that you are there to observe? Well, you can’t take the traditional ‘wallflower’ approach.

Writes Lecturer in Criminology, Dr Elke Van Hellemont

In this fascinating and frank Think Kent lecture, Elke recounts how being different actually gave her a unique insight into the complexities of gang culture. During an 18-month ethnography with black African gangs in Belgium, Elke spent time with urban gangs exploring how she could use ethnographic tools to help her witness and interpret behaviour in a meaningful way. Elke describes her exploratory journey and concludes that it was courage that helped her to move from being an outside object to a trusted element within the gang giving her a special view of the situation.

Watch Elke describe this process in The Seduction of Gangs: Pains and Pleasures of Ethnographic Research


Think Kent

Think Kent lectures are a series of short videos which give an overview of our academics and their research and teaching expertise. The series of videos provides an insight into some of the areas of research which our world-leading academics are investigating and which play a key role in forming the internationally revelant education which is characteristic of the international learning experience at Kent. By viewing these video lectures, you will have an opportunity to see the breadth of our curriculum and wide range of academic expertise within the Kent community. See the full range of topics on the Think Kent webpages.