Who are we?

We are a young and passionate multidisciplinary team of researchers from Croatia with a common interest – to study violence. It is our belief that only by understanding something can we attempt to discover ways to minimalize or prevent it.

What do we do?

We are currently working on a new project “CROATIAN VIOLENCE MONITOR – A Study of the Phenomenology, Etiology, and Prosecution of Delinquent Violence with Focus on Protecting Particularly Vulnerable Groups of Victims" led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac. This project started on March 1st in 2018, with envisaged duration of 5 years, funded by Croatian Science Foundation and Faculty of Law, University in Zagreb.

What are our goals?

We can present our main goals in three main categories:

First is to study etiology, phenomenology and prosecution of delinquent violence. With all the data collected through our fieldwork, we aim to gain a detailed insight into violence in Croatia, with an explanation of why and how it happens. Based on the collected data we will achieve mapping of violence in Croatian territory.

Alongside that, through using innovative methodology, we aim to contribute to current understanding of the concept of ‘dark figure’ of delinquent violence. This goal was put in place due to the belief that one cannot claim to research violence prevalence without taking into consideration all the violent act that are not reported. Therefore, our goal is to research what professions is this concept most prevalent in, what the most common causes for it are and what kind of changes can be put in place in order to reduce it as much as possible.

Finally, through our research, we will attempt to measure the quality of violence.  With the main idea that one can normatively evaluate two criminal offences as homicides, but the quality/quantity of violence in both cases is not necessarily the same, we aim to create a “genuine delinquent violence classification system". In order to do so, we will take into account different parameters (duration of violent act, physical vulnerability of victim, an instrument used, severity of injuries etc.) that could indicate the level of actual physical violence in a certain offence. This will help us make a system we will then be able to compare to normative framework already in place.

How are we doing it?

One of our scientific objectives is to develop, test and implement our own methodology, based on a mixed method approach that combines qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry. We will invest special efforts into operationalising the idea of an innovative “phenomenological thick description of violence”. This innovative methodological approach should enable us to focus on the criminological realities of delinquent violence, rather than their normative construction normally captured by the ‘mainstream’ approach.

We will, amongst other, conduct a total of 16 field studies covering a nationwide sample using case analysis of targeted 8,000-10,000 final prosecutorial and court cases at all 223 relevant prosecutorial and both criminal and misdemeanour judicial offices in Croatia. The 16 field studies will be conducted by our central Violence Research Lab in Zagreb (five field studies) and the three regional labs in Split (four), Rijeka (four), and Osijek (three). Besides our research group members, at least two student volunteers and one doctoral student will be involved in the field studies at each of the regional labs.

Other than the case analysis, we plan to conduct 200 interviews with key professionals involved in the prevention, detection, and prosecution of delinquent violence in Croatia in order to gather the data through self-report-victimisation and/or self-report-delinquency surveys. We will pay particular attention to conducting a pilot study on the ‘dark figure’ of delinquent violence in Croatia. Furthermore, we have identified the risks related to a successful access to sources of data and decided to resolve it in three ways.

Firstly, the active involvement of expert practitioners as Violence Research Lab associates in all stages of the project will minimise the risks of designing any aspect of the study in a non-operable or non-applicable way. Furthermore, this will enable continuous direct personal contact to practitioners in a position to facilitate access to sources of data. Secondly, we made sure we could count on active involvement of the rest of our practitioner associates, not only based in Zagreb, but also in Split, Rijeka, and Osijek. Such close cooperation with the criminal justice sector and the rest of relevant institutions minimises the potential risks related to accessing sources of necessary data. Thirdly, we will use a mixed method approach that should not only minimise the shortcomings of each single method of inquiry, but also provide more options in terms of access strategies.

Furthermore, we aim to compensate the lack in research experience by gaining input from experts on the subject. Therefore, we will be using all Violence Research Lab members’ professional contacts in order to build an ‘advisory network’ of renown domestic and international scholars in the relevant field and on specific (sub)topics. In this way, we will set up a Scientific Advisory Board.

Finally, our close consultations with the Faculty of Law’s Ethical Board and their already issued approval of the study will minimise any risks related to ethical concerns and failures regarding granted institutional access based on ethical and data protection considerations.

What are our scientific contributions?

The specific contributions we aim to make to the area of violence research are:

  • an operational and applicable definition of delinquent violence that re-focuses on the ‘core business’ of violence research, and that has been tested extensively in the field
  • methodological solutions for the study of delinquent violence, by using combined method approach and innovative “phenomenological thick description of violence”
  • a “genuine violence classification system” enabling the visualisation of the criminological reality of violence, rather than its normative conceptualisation
  • foundational and holistic research findings covering all (sub)types of delinquent violence in order to provide the necessary violence context for interpreting and understanding specific (sub)types of delinquent violence
  • assessments of delinquent violence’s ‘dark figure’ and mechanisms for the improvement of its’ detection across all relevant institutions
  • identification of the mechanisms behind the “power to define” delinquent violence, with an assessment of the consequences of this power
  • prosecutorial process analysis and its’ various filter mechanisms, from detection and reporting to indicting, adjudication and sentencing
  • assessment of delinquent violence specifics towards particularly vulnerable groups and targeted solutions for their protection