Critical Appraisal The Path and Promise of Fatherhood for Gang Members

Criminology research has been an integral part of providing relevant practitioners with significant information on the topic of criminal desistance. Apart from addressing this aspect, it allows for keen studies of issues considered instrumental in the field of criminology. As many researchers embark on such endeavors, they aim to discover new insights or even confirm notions which are already in existence. The question remains though on indeed how effective these studies are in fulfilling their presumed objectives. This paper seeks to provide a critical appraisal of such a study playing close attention to its presentation and validity.

Research studies on crime desistance are often hampered by existing incoherence of definitions, measurements and theoretical frameworks. Therefore, it is imperative to select an article which is not obscured by this factor. Hunt et al (2009) present such an article and as opposed to other articles, it addressed a rather rarely researched aspect of crime desistance. The prospects of discovering a new angle to criminal desistance among gang members made the article an enjoyable read. This is especially so because previous research and public opinion has often portrayed gang members as less likely to be influenced by fatherhood. More often than not, male gang members identify themselves with more masculine roles and are likely to consider fatherhood as such. With a closer look at the research contents, this article was quite appealing and as earlier mentioned it assured one of improved knowledge of the subject after evaluating it. From the research, it was evident that women played a big role in the turning point of the gang member fathers. Consequently, a desire emerges for wanting to gain an in-depth grasp of the opinions of the women in the lives of the gang members and form relations and more insight on the impact of fatherhood on crime desistance.

This article displays an impeccable interest in an area which has not been adamantly researched before. Even as criminology researchers study criminal desistance, they have failed to engage gangs in their research. More so, their concentration on criminal activities results to sidelining other aspects of gang members lives. Hunt et al (2009) recognize this existing gap and seeks to bridge it. This article reviews a background of previous research on criminal desistance. This information refers to criminologists perspectives on crime desistance and the implication of turning points. They acknowledge previous research and its failure to address current gang affiliations and instead concentrate on past gangs from the early 90s. It is in this light that they establish a need for research on current gangs where past ideologies have been replaced by modern tendencies. Although limited, the literature does provide ample justification for their interest in fatherhood among gang members. The authors aim at exploring fatherhood among gang members and its role as a potential turning point for these offenders. In addition, they have revealed possible theoretical frameworks for understanding and unraveling the life courses of gang members and the implication of fatherhood on their life trajectories.

As they aim to understand how fatherhood shapes gang members life trajectories, the authors target a wide ranged audience in their research. The audience is a combination of students, academicians, legal and correctional practitioners. Students will deem this article informative and as a basis for further study and interest on the subject. This will similarly apply to academicians who can actively participate in instigating further or alternative research. As for practitioners, they are provided with the knowledge that fatherhood presents a window for implementing any intervention measures. However, interest is also bound to emerge from other non criminologists and students in other fields of study especially those dealing with social work practice.

Research Methodology
Hunt et al (2009) apply qualitative research as their overall research methodology. Indeed qualitative research is quite appropriate for this sort of research especially as it aimed to interpret subjective experiences of research participants. Prior to this research there existed vast research on the aspect of criminal desistance whose methodology was quantitatively oriented. While quantitative research may be vital in developing research statistics, it does not allow critical understanding of the subject. Noaks and Wincup (2004, p.11) depict that qualitative research is crucial in criminological research because it has the capacity to research on elements of crime which are unrecorded. In such a study, the issue of fatherhood and its impacts on gang members, life trajectories, crime desistance and turning point are elements which can be known from the subjective narration of the target group. Furthermore, this method would complement the quantitative research which has been conducted on the same topic. It was clear to the authors that this research was addressing a new angle to the subject of crime desistance and in their decision to conduct qualitative research they were able to appreciate the views of gang members and their contribution in developing intervention frameworks.

Despite the fact that their choices of research design were appropriate in addressing the research aims, the authors fail to provide a detailed account of the data collection and analysis process. From the article, it is impossible to understand how the sample was selected and exactly what procedures were undertaken. Sampling is an important part of research as it focuses on the central players of the research. Their mention of the use of a non random sampling method indicates that the research was subjectively directed at studying specific types of people. This allowed for stratified sampling which enabled them to include participants from various ethnic backgrounds. Consequently, this opportunistic turn made it possible for comparative studies on the issue of fatherhood across cultures. This method of sampling may have decreased the researchs validity as opposed to the use of random sampling which emphasizes on objectives and as Bryman (2001, p.145) argues is often a valid and reliable alternative. However, the use of community informants in verifying respondents claims was influential in increasing validity.

The article does state their use of interviews as a data collection method. This method was a well informed choice as it fit the aims of the research and the qualitative research methodology. Despite this, information given on the interviews is limited to just the main topics addressed and the length of sessions. It is crucial to state the procedures for drafting interview questions and also detailing the specific questions. The same applies to explaining the form of relationships which existed between the interviewers and respondents, an element which was not addressed by the article. This allows room for analyzing any other factors which may have contributed to the respondents choice of response which greatly affects the research outcomes. Even though the data collected was in a way which served the overall purpose of the research, there was no indication of rigorous data analysis. The use of both primary and secondary data is evident in the article, with most of the research conducted through the use of primary data. Primary data with a combined use of literature sources further authenticates the research.

A significant part of research which was completely ignored in the article is the ethical considerations of the research methodology and implications. Unfortunately, the article does not indicate whether the respondents were well informed on the various aspects of the research and their involvement. There are no observable measures for consent or even the acknowledgement of any arising issues during the data collection process. It is crucial for the research to display how any claims for infringement of confidentiality of informed consent were handled. If these issues were absent, then how did this impact on the research Bell (2007, p.45) asserts that it is vital to provide clear information to the research group on the researchers intentions. Therefore, agreements need to be made and their credibility authenticated prior to the commencement of the research.

Relevance of the Research Article
Right from the beginning of the article, it is clear that the authors are aware of the contribution their research will make on current perceptions in the field of criminology. There endeavor to supplement previous research on crime desistance portends their will to offer further insight on the said topic. Thus throughout the article, they give credit to their findings by comparing previous assumptions of some issues. Hunt et al (2009, p.313), compares the evidence that non custodial fathers are motivated by the need for role modeling with earlier claims made on the dismissal of the notion. This article continuously seeks to contend and affirm claims on the subject further increasing its relevance. From their findings, the articles is keen to acknowledge that other practitioners can use apply them into other fields of practice. Practitioners seeking to provide intervention measures for the rehabilitation of such groups of people benefit from the knowledge of the appropriate time for implementing such strategies.

Conclusions and Reference List
The article comes to the conclusions that indeed fatherhood though indirectly, affects the trends of crime desistance. In fatherhood, most gang members find an avenue for change and for embracing a new identity. The implications of this new identity are what largely determine how gang members are to live. While others find themselves taking a complete turnaround from their criminal behaviors others are influenced by other challenges. These challenges include the difficulties of getting legal employment and knifing off gang affiliations. There is ample evidence to support the possibilities of fatherhood influencing criminal desistance or other features which aid in the gradual process of criminal desistance. In an effort to influence the opinions of other researchers, the article has made use of critical criminology research above the qualitative methodology used. As Davies et al (2001, p.175) argues, criminology as a part of the tools of control in modern societies should be able to provide critical relations of research subjects in the social context. This impeccable, critical relation of research findings to previous literature has also made the conclusions credible.

The reference materials used in the article are impressively up to date with journal articles from the year prior to publication. Literature dating back to the 1980s is limited and also relevant in addressing the research topic. Furthermore, the article has utilized a wide range of books and journal articles which are peer reviewed and of a scholarly nature. In spite of this, there is no evidence of online resources apart from public documents. This however does not impede the efficiency of the article. All in all, the article has succeeded in fulfilling the research objectives and while its research methodology tactics are questionable, Hunt et al (2009) have produced a valuable resource for criminologists.


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