Mixed Method Research in Criminology: Why Not Go Both Ways?

  • Shadd Maruna


This chapter explores mixed method research designs that seek to combine elements of qualitative and quantitative research into a criminological investigation. This is neither a new nor a radical concept. Indeed, the differences between so-called “qualitative” methods and so-called “quantitative” methods in social science have been called “more apparent than real” (Hanson 2008: 97; see also Newman and Benz 1998; Ragin 1994). So, in a very real sense, all criminological research is “mixed methods” research. Yet, the approach remains under-appreciated and under-utilized in contemporary criminological research. The same is not true outside the discipline. First emerging as a concept around three decades ago (see esp. Brewer and Hunter 1989; Jick 1979; Fielding and Fielding 1986), “mixed methods research” has become something of a new buzzword in methodology circles with major international conferences, journals such as the Journal of Mixed method Research, Field Methods, and Quality and Quantity, and a comprehensive handbook all of its own (Tashakkori and Teddlie 2003).

Importantly, the practice of mixed method research has been around much longer than the brand name (see esp. Teddlie and Tashakkori 2003). In the early decades of social scientific research, qualitative and quantitative research coexisted far more peacefully than today, and mixed method designs were a feature of some of the most important research of the time (see e.g., Whyte’s 1943 Street Corner Society; Roethlisberger & Dickson’s 1939 “Hawthorne Effect” studies; Warner and Lunt’s 1941 “Yankee City” research; and much of the Chicago School of Sociology’s output). This happy mixing of qualitative and quantitative approaches to social science continued throughout what Denzin and Lincoln (2005) refer to as the “Golden Age” of qualitative research, post-World War II, with ground-breaking mixed method research such as Festinger’s studies of cults (e.g., Festinger et al. 1956); Short and Strodtbeck’s (1965) gang research; and Zimbardo’s (1969) simulated prison studies (for a history of mixed method research in social science, see Hunter and Brewer 2003).


Qualitative Research Mixed Method Quantitative Research Qualitative Comparative Analysis Mixed Method Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alasuutari P (1995) Beyond the qualitative-quantitative distinction: crosstabulation in qualitative research. Int J Contemp Sociol 2:251–268Google Scholar
  2. Alpert G, MacDonald J, Dunham R (2005) Police suspicion and discretionary decision making during citizen stops. Criminology 43:407–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bachman R, Schutt RK (2001) The practice of research in criminology and criminal justice. Pine Forge, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  4. Baskin D (2002) Book review: Robert R. Weidner ‘I Won’t Do Manhattan’: causes and consequences of a decline in street prostitution. Criminol Crim Justice 2:225–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bayley D (1978) Comment: perspectives on criminal justice research. J Crim Justice 6:287–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker HS, Geer B, Hughes EC, Strauss A (1961) Boys in white. Chicago: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker HS (1996) The epistemology of qualitative research. In: Jessor R, Colby A, Shweder RA (eds) Ethnography and human development: context and meaning in social inquiry. University of Chicago, Chicago, 53–71Google Scholar
  8. Berg BL, Lawrence B (1998) Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Allyn and Bacon, BostonGoogle Scholar
  9. Blanck PD (1987) The “process” of field research in the courtroom: a descriptive analysis. Law Hum Behav 11: 337–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blanck PD, Rosenthal R, Cordell LH (1985) The appearance of justice: Judges’ verbal and nonverbal behavior in criminal jury trials. Stanford Law Rev 38:89–136, 157–158Google Scholar
  11. Blumer H (1956) Sociolgocial analysis and the “variable”. Am Sociol Rev 21(6):683–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brewer J, Hunter A (1989) Multimethod research: a synthesis of style. Sage, Newbury Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  13. Bryman A (1984) The debate about quantitative and qualitative research: a question of method on epistemology? Br J Sociol 35(1):75–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bryman A (2007) Barriers to integrating quantitative and qualitative research. J Mixed Methods Res 1(1):8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burawoy M (1998) The extended case method. Sociol Theory 16(1):4–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Burnett R (2004) To re-offend or not to re-offend? The ambivalence of convicted property offenders. In: Maruna S, Immarigeon R (eds) After crime and punishment: pathways to desistance from crime. Willan, Cullompton, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. Campbell DT (1984) Foreword to R. K. Yin’s Case study research: Design and methods. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  18. Campbell DT, Fiske DW (1959) Convergent and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix. Psychol Bull 56(2):81–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Champion DJ (2000) Research methods for criminal justice and criminology, 2nd Edition. Regents/Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  20. Collins R (2008) Violence: a micro-sociological theory. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  21. Cottrell LS (1971) Covert behavior in interpersonal interaction. Proc Am Philos Soc 115(6):462–469Google Scholar
  22. Creswell JW (2003) Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  23. Denzin N (1970) The research act. Chicago, AldineGoogle Scholar
  24. Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (2005) Introduction: the discipline and practice of qualitative research. Handbook of qualitative research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 1–28Google Scholar
  25. Diamond S, Bermudez R, Schensul J (2006) What’s the rap about ecstasy? Popular music lyrics and drug trends among American youth. J Adolesc Res 21(3):269–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. DiCristina B (1995) Method in criminology: a philosophical primer. Harrow and Heston, Albany, NYGoogle Scholar
  27. Emmons R (1999) The psychology of ultimate concerns. Guilford, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  28. Farrall S (2002) Rethinking what works with offenders. Willan, Cullompton, UKGoogle Scholar
  29. Felson R, Steadman H (1983) Situational factors in disputes leading to criminal violence. Criminology 21:59–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Festinger L, Riecken HW, Schachter S (1956) When prophecy fails. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MNCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fielding NG, Fielding JL (1986) Linking data: the articulation of qualitative and quantitative methods in social research. Sage, Beverly Hills, CAGoogle Scholar
  32. Giddings LS, Grant BM (2007) A trojan horse for positivism?: a critique of mixed methods research. ANS Adv Nurs Sci 30(1):52Google Scholar
  33. Giordano PC, Cernkovich SA, Rudolph JL (2002) Gender, crime and desistance: toward a theory of cognitive transformation. Am J Sociol 107:990–1064CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Greene JC, Caracelli VJ, Graham WF (1989) Toward a conceptual framework for mixed-method evaluation designs. Educa Eval Policy Anal 11(3):255–274Google Scholar
  35. Guba EG (1990) The alternative paradigm dialog. In: Guba EG (ed) The paradigm dialog. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 17–27Google Scholar
  36. Guba EG, Lincoln YS (1994) Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds) Handbook of qualitative research. Sage, London, pp 105–117Google Scholar
  37. Hagan FE (1997) Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and BaconGoogle Scholar
  38. Hanson B (2008) Wither qualitative/quantitative?: grounds for methodological convergence. Qual Quant 42(1): 97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Harvey JH, Weber AL, Orbuch TL (1990) Interpersonal accounts: a social psychological perspective. Oxford/Blackwell, UKGoogle Scholar
  40. Howe KR (1988) Against the quantitative-qualitative incompatibility thesis or dogmas die hard. Educ Res 17:10–16Google Scholar
  41. Howe KR (2004) A critique of experimentalism. Qual Inq 10(1):42–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Huber AA (2007) How to add qualitative profundity to quantitative findings in a study on cooperative learing. In: Mayring P, Huber GL, Gurtler L, Kiegelmann M (eds) Mixed methodology in psychological research. Sense, Rotterdam, pp 179–190Google Scholar
  43. Hunter A, Brewer J (2003) Multimethod research in sociology. Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 577–594Google Scholar
  44. Jick TD (1979) Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods: triangulation in action. Adm Sci Q 24(4):602–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Johnson B, Turner LA (2003) Data collection strategies in mixed methods research. Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 297–319Google Scholar
  46. Johnson RB, Onwuegbuzie AJ (2004) Mixed methods research: a research paradigm whose time has come. Educ Res 33(7):14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Johnson RB, Onwuegbuzie AJ, Turner LA (2007) Toward a definition of mixed methods research. J Mixed Methods Res 1(2):112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Krippendorff K (2004) Content analysis: an introduction to its methodology. Sage, Newbury Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  49. Laub J, Sampson R (2003) Shared beginnings, divergent lives: delinquent boys to age 70. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  50. LeBel T, Burnett R, Maruna S, Bushway S (2008) The chicken or the egg of subjective and social factors in desistance. Eur J Criminol 5:131–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lofland J (1971) Analysing social settings: a guide to qualitative observation and analysis. Wadsworth, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
  52. Lofland J, Lofland LH (1995) Analyzing social settings: a guide to qualitative observation and analysis. Wadsworth, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
  53. Maruna S (2001) Making good: how ex-convicts reform and rebuild their lives. American Psychological Association, WashingtonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Maruna S (2004) Desistance and explanatory style: a new direction in the psychology of reform. J Contemp Crim Justice 20:184–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Maruna S, King A (2004) Public opinion and community penalties. In: Bottoms T, Rex S, Robinson G (eds) Alternatives to prison: options for an insecure society. Willan, CullomptonGoogle Scholar
  56. Maruna S, King A (2009) Once a criminal, always a criminal?: ‘Redeemability’ and the psychology of punitive public attitudes. Eur J Crim Policy Res 15:7–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mastrofski SD, Worden RE, Snipes JB (1995) Law enforcement in a time of community policing. Criminology 33:539–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Matsueda RL (2006) Criminological implications of the thought of George Herbert Mead. Sociological theory and criminological research: views from Europe and the United States 7:77–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mayring P (2007) Arguments for mixed methodology. In:Mayring P, Huber GL, Gurtler L, Kiegelmann M (eds) Mixed methodology in psychological research. Sense, Rotterdam pp 1–4Google Scholar
  60. Mazerolle LG, Kadleck C, Roehl J (1998) Controlling drug and disorder problems: the role of place managers. Criminology 36:371–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. McElrath K (2001) Confessions of a quantitative criminologist. ACJS Today 24(4):1–7Google Scholar
  62. McLaughlin E (1991) Oppositional poverty: the quantitative/qualitative divide and other dichotomies. Sociol Rev 39(2):292–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Miethe TD, Drass KA (1999) Exploring the social context of instrumental and expressive homicides: an application of qualitative comparative analysis. J Quant Criminol 15:1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Miles MB, Huberman AM (1984) Qualitative data analysis: a sourcebook of new methods. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  65. Miller J (2008) The status of qualitative research in criminology. Workshop on Interdisciplinary Standards for Systematic Qualitative Research, National Science Foundation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  66. Miller WR, Benefield RG, Tonigan JS (1993) Enhancing motivation for change in problem drinking: a controlled comparison of two therapist styles. J Consult Clin Psychol 61:455–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Morgan DL (2007) Paradigms lost and pragmatism regained: methodological implications of combining qualitative and quantitative methods. J Mixed Methods Res 1(1):48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Newman I, Benz CR (1998) Qualitative-quantitative research methodology: exploring the interactive continuum. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, ILGoogle Scholar
  69. Pennebaker JW, Mehl MR, Niederhoffer KG (2003) Psychological aspects of natural language use: our words, our selves. Annu Rev Psychol 54(1):547–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Peterson C (1992) Explanatory style. In: Smith CP (ed) Motivation and personality: Handbook of thematic content analysis. Cambridge, New York, pp 376–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Peterson C, Schulman P, Castellon C, Seligman MEP (1992) The explanatory style scoring manual. In Smith CP (ed) Motivation and personality. Cambridge, New York, pp 383–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Ragin CC (1994) Constructing social research: the unity and diversity of method. Pine Forge, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  73. Reiss A (1971) Systematic observations of natural social phenomena. In: Costner H (ed) Sociological methodology. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 3–33Google Scholar
  74. Rist RC (1977) On the relations among educational research paradigms: from disdain to detente. Anthropol Educ Q 8(2):42–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Roethlisberger FJ, Dickson WJ (1939) Management and the Worker. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  76. Sampson RJ, Laub J (1993) Crime in the making: pathways and turning points through life. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  77. Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW (1999) Systematic social observation of public spaces: a new look at disorder in urban neighborhoods. Am J Sociol 105(3):603–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Short JF, Strodtbeck FL (1965) Group process and gang delinquency. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  79. Smith CP (1992) Motivation and personality: handbook of thematic content analysis. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Snizek WE (1976) An empirical assessment of sociology: a multiple paradigm science. Am Sociol 11:217–219Google Scholar
  81. Stemler S (2001) An overview of content analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation 7(17):137–146Google Scholar
  82. Tashakkori A, Teddlie C (1998) Mixed methodology: combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  83. Tashakkori A, Teddlie C (2003) Handbook of mixed method in the social and behavioral research. Sage, Thousand, CAGoogle Scholar
  84. Taylor RB, Shumaker SA, Gottfredson SD (1985) Neighborhood-level links between physical features and local sentiments: deterioration, fear of crime, and confidence. J Archit Plann Res 2(4):261–275Google Scholar
  85. Taylor SJ, Bogdan R (1998) Introduction to qualitative research methods: a guidebook and resource. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  86. Teddlie C, Tashakkori A (2003) Major issues and controversies in the use of mixed methods in the social and behavioral sciences. Handbook of mixed methods in social & behavioral research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 3–50Google Scholar
  87. Toch H (1992) Violent men: an inquiry into the psychology of violence revised edition. American Psychological Association, WashingtonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Viljoen JL, Vincent GM, Roesch R (2006) Assessing adolescent defendants’ adjudicative competence: interrater reliability and factor structure of the fitness interview test–revised. Criminal Justice and Behavior 33(4):467–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Warner WL, Lunt PS (1941) The social life of a modern community. H Milford, Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  90. Weisburd D, Waring EJ (2001) White-collar crime and criminal careers. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Weisburd D, Wyckoff LA, Ready J, Eck JE, Hinkle JC, Gajewski F (2006) Does crime just move around the corner? A controlled study of spatial displacement and diffusion of crime control benefits. Criminology 44:549–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Wheelock D, Hartmann D (2007) Midnight basketball and the 1994 crime bill debates: the operation of a racial code. The Sociological Quarterly 48(2):315–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Whyte WF (1943) Street corner society. University of Chicago, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  94. Woo H, Kim Y (2003) Modern gladiators: a content analysis of televised wrestling. Mass Commun Soc 6(4):361–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Zimbardo PG (1969) The human choice: individuation, reason, and order versus deindividuation, impulse, and chaos. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 17:237–307Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shadd Maruna
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Law, Queen’s University BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland

Personalised recommendations