Example Of Research Proposal On Concept Paper

Published: 2021-06-22 00:49:19
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Category: Education, Criminal Justice, Social Issues, Women, Crime, Study

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The issue of gender of the criminal offenders has been subjected to various researches. The highlight on gender scrutinizes how female offenders are treated against the male offenders when they committed murder, one of the most serious crimes across societies. Generally, most studies observe that female offenders are sentenced to lesser punishments than the male offenders. According to Hedderman and Dowds (1997, p. 8), women receive less harsh treatment that the male offenders. However, some studies contradict these gender generalizations. For instance, Kennedy (2005, p. 21), affirmed that when women commit a serious offense such as murder, which are considered to be an aggressive-male type of behavior, the gender bias shifts to the harsh treatment of women resulting to their serious penalties. Media portrays the women offenders with a lot of intensity. Female offenders are judged according to the more submissive roles they play and these aberrations result to harsher treatment. (Ibid.)
This study shall reconsider the harshness of the criminal justice system in penalizing female offenders of murder. It shall also evaluate the strong public opinion for the said female offenders. Specifically, this research will attempt to answer the following:
1. What are the sentences given to female offenders in the U.K. in the last five years (2005-2010) as compared to the male offenders of the same crime?
2. How different is the public opinion towards female offenders of murder in the said time frame?
3. What attributes explain these differences?
Purpose of the Study
This study emphasizes the gender differences in the treatment of women who committed murder. It shall describe how in recent years women have been penalized for murders, including the types and the contexts of their crimes. It shall also consider how public opinion swayed against them as compared to the opinions hurled against male offenders of the same crime. It fundamentally aims to assess the gender bias, if there is any, and to present ways by which gender must not put harsher treatment for women or men. It aims to emphasize the gravity of the crime and the necessary penalties regardless of the gender.
Importance of the Study
This study is important in bridging the gap between the perception of harshness and the actual evidences of harshness by reviewing the hard data on how female offenders of murder were treated or penalized as compared to the male offenders in the specified time frame. It shall also evaluate the strong public opinion which put women on the more difficult context after they have committed murder. This study is important because it shed lights on the actual data and stressed a strong proposal to the adherence of criminal justice regardless of the gender of the offender.
Brief Review of the Literature
Men, generally, commit more crimes than women. (Cook, 1997, p. 2) This controversial truth leads to the statistical scrutiny since time immemorial. Researches try to explain the sex disparity in the commission of crimes. A basic theory explains that criminality and masculinity are closely related. (Ibid.) In relation to the growing occurrences of female criminal offenses, the same theory is made to explain that the concurrent increase in female crimes is due to the increased masculinity of the females. (Ibid.)
There have been inconsistent and contradictory results in the generalization of genders or sexes in relation to crimes. The author also utilized a self-perception measure of masculinity and femininity to further investigate the relationship between masculinity and the female commission of crimes. They studied four groups of women - violent offenders, non-violent offenders, full time mothers, and professional women in search of the masculinity factors attesting to their criminality. Their study evidenced that the more these women perceive their masculine sides, the more they are related with their offenses. Hence, the most violent female offenders perceived themselves themselves as most masculine. (Ibid.) The authors further concluded that there must be more qualifying conceptions of “masculinity” and “femininity” in order to fully advance their contentions.
Chesney-Lind (2004) argued that the treatment of women in courts is but a reflection of the treatment of women in the general society. This author suggested that the complexity of the criminal justice system is shown when they investigate women offenders and take her case against her being a women – a mother, a wife or a daughter – and how the courts judge them against these standards or expectations and not greatly on the severity of their offenses. The stereotypes, thus, influence the way courts judge women. Cook (1997, p. 82) revealed in a 1980 study that the court sentences given to women were based on who they are and what they have done. It also showed that the courts were prejudiced against single women taking care of their children. This is same with the women offenders who came from broken homes or those who have an aberrant family background. They were said to have received harsher sentences by these courts. (Heidensohn, 1996, p. 12)
Likewise, the political environment also adds up to the dilemma which women face when they are sentenced. Owers (2007, p. 34) described the crime control scenario during the 1990’s as blindly driven by political pragmatism, famous sound bites, and slogans. These policies were not considerate of the impact of gender, race and economic status which influence these policies.
Despite the concerted effort by the European legislation to promote gender equality, public opinion remains biased in portraying women offenders, especially of murder cases. This reflects the wide and persistent stereotypes about female offenders. They are stereotyped as a maternal caregiver and this is starkly contrasted when they commit crimes such as murder. Hence, there is a strong feedback or opinion against them. (Ibid.)
There are also theories of gender bias which is an outcome of the traditional and ingrained stereotypes of women. This version of gender bias lies in the notion that women are more likely to be more rehabilitative than men. (Ibid.) Another subsequent theory of this gender bias is that a sentenced woman has a greater impact because this means that the state is singling out one mother capable of nurturing a child or children. (Ibid.)
The major theoretical framework of this research study is the historically biased conception of women due to sexuality. This is the standard difference is based on the women’s sexual morality. Rowbotham (1977, p. 45) explained this concept as the “Fallen Woman” concept which was historically contextualized during the time of Queen Victoria. It stresses on the social opinions and moral judgments placed upon people who did not subscribe to the social norms or expectations of their society. This is very much applied in the expected gendered expectations of the female sex. For instance during those times, the prostitutes and unmarried women were marked as sinful women. Walkowitz (1999, p. 39) cited a cautionary record which evidenced that during the 1840’s, women who turned into prostitution and sexual promiscuity were considered as “women who descended from the pedestal of innocence.” Such women were considered vicious and ready to commit any forms of crime.
This research shall contribute to the existing studies on gender and their biased treatment in the criminal justice system by bringing out the actual data and support which shall evidence the purported differences and how the harsh treatment of female offenders is substantiated. While this is a difficult justification, this research will attempt to prove its thesis in order to aid other researches in their studies. The combined qualitative and quantitative approaches to this study will also make a good orientation for researches dealing with the gender subject in criminal offenses.
Research Methodology
Research Philosophy
The research philosophy that is followed is the positivist approach. Positivism is a procedural approach to understanding phenomenon based on scientific data and hard facts. It is based on objectivity. (Babbie, 2005, p. 35) As a research philosophy, this study will view various sociological, biological and sensory experiences realms and their logical sequences in determining the difference or non difference in the treatment of women in criminal offenses. This is examined under the social (public opinion) and legal (court system) contexts. Positivist explanation of crimes is a deterministic approach that is solely interested with prediction than with explanation. (Ibid.) They are often focused on causation.
Research Methodology
This study is basically a qualitative research that tries to gather existing information and data which reflect the whys and how the women are treated the way they are treated in the criminal justice system. Qualitative research is useful for the purpose of drawing out more meaningful analysis and generalizations in gender analysis of harsh treatment of offenders. According to Babbie (2005, p. 52), qualitative research intends to collect a deep understanding of the social actor – the human being. It also delves into the reasons why the human being behaves in such a way that he/she does. Thus, qualitative type of research investigates the why and how an individual arrives at a certain knowledge or understanding or decision. (Thomas, 2004, p. 27) Thus, this study aims to highlight the major factors that signify the observed distinctions of treating women offenders of murder versus the male offenders of the same crime.
The research will be carried out in the major cities of the United Kingdom. It shall examine the various penalties and procedures for women who committed murder, from 2005 up to 2010. It shall also look into the various media opinion polls and assess on the opinions against female offenders of serious crimes, specifically murder. Fundamentally, the women offender will be studied according to their age, social class, economic status, and if they are single, married and have children or not. Their ethnicity will not anymore be classified because this factor is not under the scrutiny of this study. This might even add up to the social judgments and prejudice factors of the women offenders.
Research Instrument and Data Gathering Procedure
Existing qualitative research will be extracted from, books, journals, Internet resources, documents and newspapers. It shall also make use of the official statistics from the Home Office and Prison Service and from those of the independent research agencies. This research shall maximize the use of secondary sources. These are very important because it saves time and money. It surmounts the overwhelming data that is available. Primary sources results to safety concerns and time constraints. The amount of time can be very limited and access to female offenders can be risky. Secondary research enables the researcher to extract data for the time considered in the study (five years. This time frame justifies the duration for the significant changes in the tretament of female offenders in both cases of the courts and by the public. (Babbie, 2005, p. 55)
However, the sources on statistics need to be rechecked. Official records and institutionalized statistical data are sometimes detrimental to the study. Some data can be misinterpreted and this might lead to a false conclusion. Specifically, the crime figures and the penalties and/or sentences to each offender need to be counter checked.
Data collection will be divided into three categories: interviews, direct observation and analysis of secondary data. The data gathering procedure will be as follows:
1. Interview guide - the proper list of questions to be used for gathering insights for this study. The questionnaires mainly focus in determining the penalties and procedures for penalizing the women offenders of murder in various cities of United Kingdom. The data gathered from open ended interviews is composed of the direct and primary information. The warden or any other court officer will be interviewed for the questions relating to the sentences of the female offenders. The researcher shall obtain an official list of warden and courts officer from the various court districts. The interviewees are also qualified through background investigation. If positive, they were included in the list and their respective offices will be contacted. They were asked if they could be interviewed in relation to the preliminary questions the researcher would like to know. If negative, they were dropped from the list. A final list of the interviewees will be prepared. The interviews will be recorded by written notes and through transcription.
2. Analysis of data – the researcher will analyze the sources and data and attempt to answer the research problems. To check the validity of the documents, the following criteria are used: credibility, authenticity, meaning, and representativeness. The researcher will also check on the authors of the documents if they are impartial and/or experts. He must also ensure that there is a generality not selectivity in what is recorded and what is preserved. There must be great confidence on the integrity of the data set and it must be corroborated by other reliable sources and documents. Finally, the meaningfulness of each document will be screened. (Ibid.)
The primary documents to be examined in this juncture is the public opinions as stated in the primary and secondary documents and sources to be collected for this study. According to Babbie (2005, p. 46), the validity and the reliability of the data gathered will ultimately depend, on a greater part, on the research skills of the researcher, by which he/she methodologically and sensitively evaluates and selects the materials to be used in his/her research.
As pointed out, the scientific method of observation is rigorous and it consists of looking beyond what is ordinarily seen and observed. Content analysis, which is partly used with the written documents, aims to collect useful and credible qualitative data evaluation and this can only happen when the researcher carefully observed discipline, know how and training when he/she utilized it for research purpose. All these criteria will be looked for by the researcher in choosing the proper documents and materials and references needed by this research.
Data will be coded and recorded using Microsoft Word program and tables. No special statistical tools or social science measurement programs will be used such as SPSS. The data on crime penalties will be presented in tabular presentation. Email interviews will be recorded using the computer.
Ethical Consideration
As there is no control over the relibaility and validity of the sources and the data collected through secondary sources, this study shall apply various ethical norms in conducting this research study.
While there is an ethical risk that the research question will not be fully addressed, this researcher will try to do his best to submit to the rigors of objective research and shall not, in any way, influence or manipulate the data or research outcomes to suit his interests. This will be explicitly taken care of in this study. The objectivity of sources is a crucial consideration when conducting secondary research. Most of the research literature may obstruct the objective view of the author as he is geared twoards his assumptions. However, he will take every reasonable effort to override his subjectivity in dealing with the assessment of the research data. This study will be conducted without a sort of attachment to the research outcomes. This approach of intersubjectivity is one that will be taken in this study in order to overcome biased resources.
Another ethical consideration is the determination of the seriousness of offences committed by women. Statistics are very vague and ambiguous. Hence, the researcher must be very cautious on considering the motives of the crime committed as represented by the various numbers shown as statistics.
Reflexive Account
The personal views of the author will not be taken into account even when the research is qualitative and more subjective in nature. The author will try to achieve the most objective attitude by assuming there is really no difference in the treatment of female and male offenders for the murder cases in the U.K. This shall reflect the main objective of the researcher which is to really investigate and assess if the penalties and the public opinions are prejudiced and harsh for female offenders.
Time Table for Research
1. Literature Review/Planning/Research Proposal – November 2011, First Week
2. Further Review of Literature – November 2011, Second Week to Fourth Week
3. Locating and gathering primary sources – December 2011
4. Locating and gathering secondary sources – January 2012
5. Interviews, field works and further analysis – February 2012 to March 2012
6. Production of the First Draft – April 2012, Second Week
7. Production of the Final Draft – April 2012, Last Week
Babbie, E., 2005. The Basic of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Chesney-Lind, M., 2004. The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime. London; Sage Publications.
Cook, D., 1997. Poverty, Crime and Punishment. London; CPAG.
Hedderman, C. and Dowds, L., 1997. The Sentencing of Women. Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate. Research Findings no.58.
Heidensohn, F., 1996. Women and Crime. 2nd Edition. London; Macmilan.
Kennedy, H., 2005. Eve Was Framed. London: Vintage.
Owers, A., 2007. Imprisonment in the twenty-first century: a view from the inspectorate . In Jewkes, Y., ed., 2007. Handbook on Prisons. Devon; Willan Publishing.
Rowbotham, S., 1977. Hidden From History: 300 Years of Women’s Oppression And The Fight Against It. Third Edition. London: Pluto Press.
Walkowitz, J., 1999. Victorian Society: Women, class and the state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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