Syke's Method in Context: The Place and Practice of “Slow Science”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the likely constraints and freedoms confronted by Sykes surrounding the collection of data for The Society of Captives. While Sykes would certainly have faced many key decisions concerning how best to immerse himself and sustain his presence within Trenton Prison, the chapter shows how the historical context (chiefly, lack of extensive external ethical oversight, provision of unfettered access to the field, and absence of a “publish or perish” mentality) enabled the successful completion of what remains one of the longest prison-based ethnographies. Finally, it addresses the question of whether and how “slow science” might survive in the current era.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPower and pain in the modern prison
Subtitle of host publicationThe society of captives revisited
EditorsBen Crewe, Andrew Goldsmith, Mark Halsey
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780191891762
ISBN (Print)9780198859338
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Sykes
  • prison
  • ethnography
  • method
  • ethics
  • slow science


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