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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (6th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 30 November 2023

p. 41618. Rethinking comparative criminal justicelocked

p. 41618. Rethinking comparative criminal justicelocked

  • David Nelken


This much revised chapter on studying criminal justice comparatively begins by asking why we do such research and what approaches we can draw on. It considers the goals of studying comparative criminal justice and the contributions that are made by the positivist search for explaining variation, the interpretive effort to grasp meaning, and the legal approach that gives full attention to what legal actors say and think they are doing. It goes on to examine problems in identifying relevant similarities and differences, comparing like with like, and bringing new places into perspective. Following this, it examines the challenges that increasing transnational and global links between nation states pose to the field. Last, but not least, it discusses different strategies for gathering data and how this needs to change with the growth of transnational criminal justice.

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