Two Different Stories: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Crime in Antigua and Barbuda
by Janeille Zorina Matthews
This study makes an argument for a constructionist understanding of crime in Antigua and Barbuda. Specifically, the study argues that the way in which members of the public and the news media talk about crime is important because understanding how crime is framed in terms of causes and remedies necessarily influences who we criminalize, what legislation we pass and how we allocate our tax dollars. As such, framing crime in ways that are tinged with hyperbole, or that run contrary to evidence is unlikely to result in effective policy responses. However, this study is not rooted solely in social constructionism. The study also proceeds on the basis that there is a world of material reality that exists independently of our perceptions of it. Exploring the dissonance between the ways in which crime is experienced and the way in which it is reflected in official crime data relies in part on this premise. In seeking to understand how crime is constructed in the media and public discourse, the study identifies biases and alternative interpretations through a comparison to official crime data. To this end, the study adopts a concurrent embedded mixed methods research design that includes the collection and analysis of quantitative data as well. To create an empirical account of historical crime trends and patterns in Antigua and Barbuda, which does not currently exist beyond this study, there is analysis of 40 years of official crime data to determine the overall scale of crime, the relative incidence of different types of offences, trends in those offences over time and their geographical distribution.