Undercover research is an emotive and controversial field often equated with deception and transgression. Using classic examples and contemporary case studies this book challenges covert research’s dispersed place within the social sciences and rehabilitates its reputation as a powerful research method. Drawing in part on his own undercover research into the night-time economy of bouncers, the author explores the roots and evolution of covert research; his deft treatment of the fear and fascination within furtive fieldwork is grounded in the practicality of the methods and tools needed to conduct quality research in the field. Packed with learning-by-example tips, this book shows that with critical imagination and proper ethical foundations, covert research could be a great addition to your methodological toolkit.

Conclusions

8.1 Reflections, musings and troubles

These conclusions are more accurately a series of ongoing intellectual reflections, musings and further troubles that will not go away around the complex issues of deception. One of the key messages here is that important lessons can be learnt from covert research, which, in some cases, can echo and relate to the wider social research community. Covert research should, for me, be part of a routine methodological imagination and toolkit in the social sciences, not absent from it or difficult to locate. Moreover, for me, the craft of covert research is an artful business. Getting close to participants and not letting them get close to you in a sustained manner is an emotional and challenging endeavour.

From my archival dig ...

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