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Understanding Comparison in Criminal Justice Research: An Interpretive Perspective


Travers, MH, Understanding Comparison in Criminal Justice Research: An Interpretive Perspective, International Criminal Justice Review, 18, (4) pp. 389-405. ISSN 1057-5677 (2008) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2008 Georgia State University

DOI: doi:10.1177/1057567708324592


This article explores some implications of interpretive philosophies of social science, developed by thinkers such as Max Weber and Peter Winch, for conducting comparative research in criminal justice. These address the meaningful character of human activities but, unlike constructionism and postmodernism, respect the objective and constraining character of institutional realities. Drawing on American empirical studies that employ qualitative methods to explain statistical variation, the article shows how interpretive traditions often find it difficult freeing themselves from positivist assumptions and fall short of investigating how social actors understand and engage in comparison in their everyday lives. A discussion of data collected in an ethnographic study of children's courts in Australia demonstrates how a more thorough-going and consistent approach to comparison is possible within this interpretive framework. © 2008 Georgia State University.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:comparison, criminal justice, interpretivism, children's courts, qualitative methods
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Public law
Research Field:Public law not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Criminal justice
UTAS Author:Travers, MH (Dr Max Travers)
ID Code:53345
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2008-12-01
Last Modified:2015-02-10

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