Taking the Border for a Walk: A reflection on the agonies and ecstasies of exploratory research

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


Hypothesis testing using both quantitative and qualitative methods is a respected method in social science research. However, other strands of social inquiry adopt a more open-ended and flexible approach. In this chapter, I discuss the benefits and pitfalls of exploratory approaches to researching the border, using my own experience of ‘taking the border for a walk’. I begin by setting out some key ideas about exploratory research as an epistemological perspective for social researchers, contrasting its inductive approach with the deductive orientation more characteristic of hypothesis testing. While they may appear to be polar opposites, I argue that ‘scientific’ inquiry relies on creative insights to a greater degree than is often acknowledged, while the apparent flouting of established methodological principles in exploratory research belies the deeper logic and discipline that is needed to keep this potentially wayward methodology on track.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminal Justice Research in an Era of Mass Mobility
EditorsAndriani Fili, Synnove Jahnsen, Rebecca Powell
Place of PublicationAbingdon, UK
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315269771
ISBN (Print)9780367482572
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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