SAGE Journal Articles
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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.
Shdaimah, Corey S., Benjamin R. Kaufman, Charlotte Lyn Bright, and Shawn M. Flower. Neighborhood Assessment of Prostitution as a Pressing Social Problem and Appropriate Responses. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(3): 275-298.
Concerns arising from three Baltimore, Maryland community groups advocating for more effective responses to prostitution led to the creation of the Specialized Prostitution Diversion program (SPD), a therapeutic model within the traditional criminal justice system. This mixed methods study used survey, interview, and field observations to ascertain neighborhood concerns about prostitution. Findings show that one neighborhood is notably different from the others in that respondents consider prostitution less of a problem, are less likely to believe police should respond to prostitution, and are less likely to indicate that prostitution causes a nuisance or could lead to additional criminal behavior. Neighborhood residents’ assessment of appropriate responses to prostitution, however, was not significantly different. Most believe that jail and/or treatment are appropriate for individuals engaging in prostitution, suggesting community support for hybrid responses combining punitive and rehabilitative components such as the SPD, regardless of the types or level of concern about prostitution.
Sullivan, Christopher J. and Jean Marie McGloin. Looking Back to Move Forward: Some Thoughts on Measuring Crime and Delinquency over the Past 50 Years. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 51(4): 445-466.
When Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency was first published, criminology was in the midst of an important research stream on the measurement of offending. This never solidified into a strong subdiscipline akin to psychometrics, however. After briefly discussing the goals of measurement and how they correspond to the explanation of criminal events and behavior, the authors consider how the prevailing methodological paradigm, which relies heavily on analysis of a limited number of data sets via variable-based regression techniques, may constrain measurement progress on the whole. In doing so, they highlight the imbalance between the growing sophistication of analytic models and the relative stagnation of the employed data sets and measures. The article then provides some examples of exceptions to this broad trend—both in terms of data collection and measurement techniques. Finally, the authors consider basic lessons drawn from these innovative approaches to measurement.