CROATIAN VIOLENCE MONITOR - A Study of the Phenomenology, Etiology, and Prosecution of Delinquent Violence with Focus on Protecting Particularly Vulnerable Groups of Victims (Violence Research Lab)
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac, LL.M.
Croatian Science Foundation & University of Zagreb Faculty of Law
60 months (March 1st 2018 – February 28th 2023)
The central research objective of this project is to empirically and normatively capture and analyze the phenomenology, etiology, and prosecution of delinquent violence in Croatia, with a clear focus on particularly vulnerable groups of victims and their very specific needs for protection (for example: elderly, minorities, children, etc.).
The whole idea behind this project is based upon a fact that one of the greatest challenges in current violence research is the lack of a commonly accepted definition of the core subject itself: violence (Heitmeyer and Hagan, 2002; Imbusch, 2002). Violence and the scientific as well as the general perception of what violence actually is have obviously changed over time (Aebi and Linde, 2016). Also, new dimensions such as psychological, verbal, economic, structural, symbolic, medial, and many other, have blurred the picture and vastly broadened the subject scope of violence research. Since meaningful impact research on this broadening of violence research’s subject scope is lacking, it is impossible to determine its’ effects and assess whether they are positive or negative. Having the aforementioned in mind, violence research may well be characterized as highly fragmentary and (sub)specialized, since it predominantly focuses on specific (sub)types of violence (domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, political violence and terrorism, etc.), certain groups of perpetrators (collective violence/state violence, police violence, ethnic violence, youth violence, etc.), or targeted groups of victims (children, women, minorities etc.) (Heitmeyer and Hagan, eds., 2003). Our aim is to take a more holistic approach towards violence in order to fully define and study it. This broad approach is based on the premise that the study of certain (sub)types of violence without empirical data on the overall violent context leads to fragmentary, and potentially distorted understandings of the (sub)types in question. Considering the rise in Internet usage and the emergence of new risks in the virtual environment Violence Research Lab will also study violence and its’ relationship to modern technology (cyber harassment). Violence Research Lab will conduct foundational research on overall delinquent violence, defined as any illegal use of physical force against another person and his/her will, with the exclusive or primary intent to hurt or to kill. That kind of definition of violence will provide us clear focus on the essential dimension of violence – physical one and its main characteristic- intent. Violence Research Lab will provide a detailed insight into violence itself, not focusing on its normative framework. Main goal is to take a look at violence in its essence and try to measure it in new perspective. For example, if we take a look at homicide research and its findings, we can use e.g. homicide rate to measure the number of homicides in relation to population, but not the violence itself, at least not outside the framework of the normative disguise of the violence that remains well hidden behind its’ normative conceptualization. One count of murder perfectly measures the fact that one act of lethal violence has taken place. But what it does not measure is the quantity and quality or the essence of the actual violence applied by the perpetrator and suffered by the victim, which may vary tremendously when comparing two different cases of murder. Through this project this should all be taken into account and will therefore focus on the ‘core businesses’ of violence through analyzing its criminological reality. Main task will also include the development of an innovative methodology and a Violence Research Lab database.
Violence Research Lab practical impact
Violence Research Lab’s findings will serve as a base for establishing a “genuine violence classification system”, which might be a breakthrough in violence research and should provide for the possibility to see the actual violence that has so far been hidden behind its’ normative framework. Through final year of our project, “genuine violence classification system app” will be created and offered for commercial use. In that sense, this research will also have a practical impact. Practical application of Violence Research Lab findings includes creating an overall national strategy paper for preventing and detecting delinquent violence and cyber harassment and also targeted manuals and protocols prepared for the specific needs of different institutions.
Finally, Violence Research Lab envisages not only offering training, seminars, workshops for practitioners, but also incorporation of its findings in relevant higher education programs.
Violence Research Lab methodology
The plan is to develop a genuine Violence Research Lab research methodology (drafting 2 sets of questionnaires for data collection, case studies, interviews, case analysis, self-report-victimization survey, and/or self-report-delinquency surveys etc.) which will be the basis for the research and the basis for all further activities. Expected personal and documentation sources of empirical data include: police officers, public prosecutors, criminal judges, social workers, health workers, specialized NGOs’ members, (potential) victims, (potential) offenders, prosecution case files, court case files, etc. Methods of inquiry include 16 field studies, 8,000-10,000 court and prosecution case analysis, analysis of existing statistical data 200 conducted interviews with key persons from various fields of violence prevention, detection and prosecution etc. The sources of data depend on the operationalization of research subject, scope, and victim typology and will thus strongly rely on the input from Violence Research Lab’s expert practitioner associates. That will also ensure a quality use of data collected so that it could be used in practice and indicate deficiencies and weaknesses in the current system, in order for this research to be the basis and foundation for improvement of existing practice and theory development.