NSfK Research Grants 2021 – Abstracts of funded projects

Research grants awarded in 2021

Co-Nordic project

Project leader Markus Kaakinen, University of Helsinki:

“Street Gang Involvement Among Nordic Youth: A comparative study on prevalence and risk factors in Nordic countries”

Gangs and gang-related crime have been discussed in the Nordic countries since the late 20th century. Recently, concerns about the phenomenon have risen again. Concerns have mainly related to Sweden, but there have also been signs of gang-related crime in other Nordic countries.

The juvenile street gangs, especially among marginalized social groups from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, are at the heart of the gang phenomenon. This project analyzes gang involvement and pro-criminal attitudes among adolescents (aged 14 to 17 years) in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden using representative school samples (N = 9,000) from ten Nordic cities (2 cities from each country including capital) and state-of-the-art comparative methods. In addition, the project examines how gang involvement and attitudes toward crime relate to residential segregation and social marginalization at the individual and community levels.

The project is based on the global comparative International Self-Reported Delinquency study (ISRD) and utilizes a widely used Eurogang measurement for analyzing gang involvement and gang characteristics. The research results will provide up-to-date and robust comparative knowledge on youth gang involvement and pro-criminal attitudes in the Nordic countries to inform policy making.

The results will also shed light on whether residential segregation and social marginalization function as risk factors for gang crime and pro-criminal attitudes among Nordic adolescents. The research results are reported via peer-reviewed research articles, policy briefs, and publications intended for the general public.

Participants: Markus Kaakinen (University of Helsinki), Kim Moeller (Malmö University), Christian Klement (Aalborg University), Lars Westfelt (University of Gävle), Amir Rostami (University of Gävle), Margrét Valdimarsdóttir (Univeristy of Akureyri), and Heidi Lomell (University of Oslo)

Contact information: markus.kaakinen[at]helsinki.fi

Individual projects

Polina Smiragina-Ingelström, post doc (SE), Stockholm University

“Negotiating care, post-trafficking needs and gender in understanding help-seeking behaviour of trafficked victims: a case study of Finland and Sweden”

This is a comparative case study, which seeks to investigate help-seeking behaviour among the male and female victims of human trafficking in Sweden and Finland. Using the post-trafficking assistance model as an analytical framework, this study aims to uncover factors that enable or impede help-seeking behaviour among trafficked victims, as well as to identify the gaps in existing assistance mechanisms in the two countries. Through ethnographic methods, combining insights from sociology, medical anthropology and criminology, this study attempts to gather detailed qualitative data to examine the help-seeking behaviour of trafficked victims. This study is grounded in the constructionist tradition, whereby it attempts to examine the existing assistance and care mechanisms and the actual needs of victims through an interactional lens. It then attempts to identify the role these factor play in the help-seeking behaviour of trafficked victims. In analysing the empirical data, I will build on an interactional approach to victimhood, and draw from theories regarding the hierarchy of victimhood, the concept of the ideal victim and notions of gender (including the sociology of femininity and masculinity).

Contact information: Polina Smiragina-Ingelström polina.smiragina[at]criminology.su.se.

Kivanc Atak, post doc resesarcher and teaching fellow (SE)

“Local community frames and influence on policing in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods in Stockholm”

Policing in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods comprises a plethora of proactive strategies for purposes of order-maintenance, crime prevention and trust-building. However, research is rather divided concerning the process, implementation and outcomes of locally adjusted, proactive police practices. The question is particularly relevant in a Nordic, specifically Swedish, context, where residential segregation of disadvantaged suburban areas pose significant challenges to practitioners and scholars alike in terms of public safety and relationship with agents of law enforcement.

The aim of this project is to provide a bottom-up perspective and explore how local community and neighborhood organizations frame and try to influence localized police practices in neighborhoods designated as socially disadvantaged in Stockholm. The project will draw on qualitative inquiry through interviews, primarily, and participant observation.

The results of the project can expand scholarly understandings of local residents’ interactions with the police, not simply as recipients and evaluators of police work, but also as actors with situated knowledge. In this respect, the project would allow thinking beyond the conceptual framework of legitimacy and procedural justice, and offer critical reflections over notions as community power and engagement.

Findings of the research will be presented in two seminars and a journal article.

Contact information: kivanc.atak[at]criminology.su.se
Department of Criminology, Stockholm University, Phone: +46 72 909 9730

Tobias Kammersgaard, post doc (DK), Aarhus University

“From Punishment to Help? An Analysis of Contemporary Drug Decriminalization Reforms”

Worldwide policy responses to drug use are still largely based on prohibition, criminalization and punishment. However, several governments are beginning to question the effectiveness of this approach and are changing their policies in a new direction.

In 2001, Portugal became the first country to decriminalize drugs for personal consumption and in 2018 the Norwegian government appointed a committee to prepare the implementation of a new drug policy, where the Portuguese model would be assessed in order to determine whether a similar a model could be implemented in Norway. The overall goal of the committee was to propose a model where “responsibility for society’s response to the use and possession of illegal drugs for personal use is transferred from the justice sector to the health service” and the subheading of the report that the committee produced in 2019 was titled “From Punishment to Help”.

This research project will examine the upcoming Norwegian drug policy reform and the Portuguese drug decriminalization reform of 2001. The research project aims explore the extent to which these reforms represent a reorientation in thinking about drugs or whether existing rationalities and practices associated with prohibition remain intact.

The project will assess the underlying logics, the methods and the assumptions of the reforms and compare these with each other, as well as with the logics, methods and assumptions associated with drug prohibition. The research project will have a specific focus on how these reforms can inform decisions about the development of drug policy in the countries in the Nordic region.

Contact information: Tobias Kammersgaard, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University, Denmark

Email: tok.crf[at]psy.au.dk

Nordic working Groups

Working group led by Gertrud Hafstad, PhD, researcher (NO) Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies

“Child abuse and neglect research in the Nordic Countries (CHANCE)”

The CHANCE initiative is a joint Nordic effort to study child victimization of violence and abuse in the participating countries. The main goal of the network is to develop a research protocol enabling participating countries to rigorously map child abuse and neglect rates among adolescents in the Nordic countries. A joint research protocol for the study of child abuse and neglect in the Nordic countries will hold the potential to strengthen our knowledge about the frequency and severity of child abuse in countries comparable in legislative, financial, and childcare matters, and enable more targeted interventions to prevent child victimization in the future.

We plan to conduct three two-day meetings, serving as meeting points for researchers on child abuse and neglect in the Nordic countries. The meetings will focus on the larger legislative and ethical framework for conducting population-based studies on child abuse and neglect in adolescent populations in each participating country, as well as describing methodological challenges and possible scientifically sound solutions to these.

In all, the work-group meetings will cumulate in a publishable research protocol describing a joint Nordic study for the investigation of child abuse and neglect in the Nordic countries. We will make an effort to include researchers from all Nordic countries, by this expanding the scope of participating countries as compared to previous initiatives. Invited participants will be researchers in the Nordic countries already having conducted similar research in their own country, and/or who have a central position in a research institution encompassing the relevant expertise and/or the infrastructure allowing for this kind of research to be conducted in due time.

Contact information: Dr. Gertrud Sofie Hafstad at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.
Email: g.s.hafstad[at]nkvts.no Phone: +47 41609916

Working group led by Anette Storgaard, professor (DK), Aarhus University

“Meeting for members of the editorial board of Nordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab “

The purpose of the meeting is to gather all members of the editorial board of Nordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab. The board meets physically every two years and virtually in the opposite years in order to exchange ideas for topics and development of the Journal. In 2021 important topics to be debated are the initial steps of Open Access and the preparation of the special issue for the celebration the 60th anniversary of NSfK in 2022.

The meeting is of crucial importance for the continued development of the Journal, which is for time being in a very positive direction for the benefit of publication of high-quality nordic criminological research. The participants in the meeting are the members of the editorial board and the administrative coordinator: Linda Minke, Anette Storgaard, Gunnar Jørgensen (adm) (Denmark), Paul Larsson, Heidi Lomell (Norway), Marie Torstensson (Sweden), Dan Helenius (Finland), Ragnheidur Bragedottir (Iceland).

Contact Person: Anette Storgaard, University of Aarhus, Denmark (main editor)