This article highlights the main methodological problems and solutions encountered while researching violent young men in the marginalised north-eastern area of Medellín, Colombia. Using ethnographic methods, the research investigated how violent behaviour may be inherited, and its relationship to masculinities and youth. It asked how violence is transmitted to young men in both domestic and social spaces, and evaluated the relationship between marginalisation and social violence. Little has been written about how researchers can access violent actors who are reluctant to come forward or tell the truth, nor the ethical issues that arise when researching violent subjects in conflict contexts. This article explains how dangers were dealt with, but also how problems of accessing violent actors were overcome, and considers the ethical dilemmas.
IDS Bulletin (2009) 40 (3) 72-77 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2009.00041.x]