Comparative historical analysis in criminology and criminal justice

Authored by: Mathieu Deflem

The Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Criminology

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415659703
eBook ISBN: 9780203074701
Adobe ISBN: 9781135114947


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Qualitative methodologies that explore issues of a comparative and/or historical nature have been used extensively in criminology and criminal justice. The impression that all, let alone the best, research in these and other fields of social science is of a quantitative nature geared to the analysis of numerically expressed social phenomena cannot be empirically supported. Of course, it is true that the predominance and popularity of quantitative methods in social research are statistically observable facts (Copes, Brown, & Tewksbury, 2011). Also, most research in criminology and criminal justice that analyzes crime (as a legal category) and/or deviance (as an unspecified norm violation) and various dimensions of their control from an explicitly historical or comparative viewpoint tends to focus less on technical matters of methodology and more on the findings from research. Thus, one of the main values of a comparative historical analysis is often readily presented by virtue of its contribution to knowledge from the viewpoint of uncovering aspects of social life that are either spatially and/or historically remote from a given localized and/or contemporary setting.

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