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Quantitative and Qualitative Research in Criminology

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I need help understanding the difference between quantitative and qualitative research in the criminology sense? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

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Excellent question!


1. I need help understanding the difference between quantitative and qualitative research in the criminology sense? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

The qualitative approach (also referred to as interpretive) is a way to gain insights through discovering meanings by improving our comprehension of the whole of a phenomenon e.g., juvenile delinquency investigated through interviewing youth (as opposed to using crime statistics in qualitative research).

Qualitative research explores the richness, depth, and complexity of phenomena, such as hate crimes or interviewing serial killers in criminology. Qualitative research, broadly defined, means "any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification" (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) (1). Quantitative research uses these methods. Although acceptance of qualitative (interpretivism) is increasing within human movement sciences, quantitative (positivism) remains the dominant paradigm, as it does in other social science fields. However, they work together, as the variables indentified in qualitative research are further studied quantitatively.

The assumptions of the two approaches also differ. The underlying assumption of interpretivism (qualitative) is that the whole needs to be examined in order to understand a phenomenon. Interpretivism (qualitative) is critical of the positivism (quantitative) because it seeks to collect and analyze data from parts of a phenomenon and, in so doing; positivism can miss important aspects of a comprehensive understanding of the whole. For example, in investigating street crime, the qualitative researcher might interview twelve youth, parents and teachers to get the whole picture of youth crime from the perspective of these youth. Interpretivism proposes that there are multiple realities, not single realities of phenomena, and that these realities can differ across time and place. Thus, youth crime might look differently from each of these youths, parents, and teachers perspective, but all are equally valid as part of the whole. (1)

There are a number of distinctive research designs under the qualitative paradigm: (1) participant observation, (2) intensive interviewing, (3) focus groups, and (4) case studies ...

Solution Summary

In reference to criminology, this solution compares the differences between quantitative and qualitative research. It also includes the advantages and disadvantages of each. Supplemented with two informative articles further detailing research methods in criminology, as well as many other links for further research.

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