In an ongoing dissertation project in ethnology the empirical field of secure units of compulsory care for delinquent youth is explored. Ethnographic methods and materials are used in the research project: primarily interviews and participatory observations in a secure unit for teenagers. Secure units in Sweden are publicly funded and governed; yet very closed from public observation. Entering the closed environment of secure units as a researcher brings about questions of ethics and of the researchers position.
The field of compulsory care is dominated by knowledge produced within disciplines such as medicine, psychology and sociology. Concepts from these disciplines and their overarching ideas of what human beings are, influences the knowledge produced within this field. The term 'field' is used in a double sense and is thus referring to the empirical field, as well as to the research field, of compulsory care.
This paper shall discuss the possibilities and challenges of knowledge production in a field of study where many different perspectives compete for the dominant position. It shall discuss further the practice of articulation, as used in the discourse theoretical logics approach, in the process of integrating concepts from different disciplines and research traditions into a new coherent whole. Articulation, here understood as the reflective judgment that results in a modification of elements, is a process where issues of self-reflexivity, positionality and the relationship of knowledge and power are brought together; articulated in a new way.