Doing Court Ethnography: How I Learned to Study the Law in Action

  • Carla J. BarrettEmail author


In this chapter, Carla Barrett chronicles how she came to do court ethnography, sharing insights on its many rewards and challenges. She argues how court ethnography can play an important role in our understandings of criminal justice systems and policies. The study of the day-to-day enactment of laws—of the “law in action”—is useful and necessary research because it helps reveal how the law actually functions regardless of its intent.


Court ethnography Law in action Sociology of law Court narratives Youth justice Youth tried as adults 


  1. Ludwig, F. (1955). Youth and the law: Handbook on laws affecting youth. Brooklyn, NY: Foundation Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations