Searching for Glimmers of Ethnography in Jailhouse Criminology

  • Jacqueline B. HelfgottEmail author


This chapter reflects on the ways in which traditional mixed-method research designs can capture the spirit of criminological Verstehen and the ethnographic method. Experiences are offered to illustrate successes and failures in attempts to incorporate the ethnographic lens in prison and reentry-based research. Challenges are raised in incorporating elements of ethnography in traditional mixed-method designs including maintaining boundaries while listening to and treating people with respect as human beings, struggles with prison security issues and logistics, research ethics, developing trust as an outsider, and the difficulties in measuring phenomenological experience through the traditional research process. The importance of incorporating methodological creativity to employ ethnography-infused mixed-method research designs to ensure that the human element of crime and justice research is not lost in the distance that is created by jailhouse criminology is discussed.


Jailhouse criminology Criminological Verstehen Mixed-method research designs Ethnographic lens Corrections Reentry 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seattle UniversitySeattleUSA

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