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NCJ Number: 227733 Find in a Library
Title: Comparative Criminal Justice: Beyond Ethnocentrism and Relativism
Journal: European Journal of Criminology  Volume:6  Issue:4  Dated:July 2009  Pages:291-311
Author(s): David Nelken
Date Published: July 2009
Page Count: 21
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study examined ethnocentrism and Relativism using the example of Cavadino and Dignan's recent analysis of differences in prison rates.
Abstract: This study suggests that more attention needs to be given to understanding how different criminal justice systems actually produce prison rates as well as interpreting the ideas and values that animate those inside and outside the system. The task of comparative criminal justice is to compare and contrast the ways of responding to crime with those practiced in other countries. It also involves borrowing from or trying to learn from what is done in other places. There is a risk of being ethnocentric, in that assuming that what one country does, or one country's way of thinking about and responding to crime is universally shared, or at least, that it would be right for everyone else. Furthermore, the temptation of relativism, the view that one country will never really be able to grasp what others are doing, should have no basis for evaluating whether the approaches of other countries is effective. Although criminal justice practices gain their sense from the setting that shapes them and the conditions with which they have to deal, they can also be understood by outsiders and need to be evaluated according to cosmopolitan criteria, rather than evaluated solely on local criteria. Finally, reforms that emerge from within the same society often tend to reproduce the problems that they are being asked to solve because of the similarity in cultures. This suggests that many criminal justice approaches can be learned from the practices and policies of other countries, while some matters can only be learned by studying the practices and policies outside the immediate culture. Table and references
Main Term(s): Foreign criminal justice systems; Prisonization
Index Term(s): Class comparisons; Criminal justice evaluation; Criminal justice ideologies; Criminal justice program evaluation; Criminal justice standards; Criminal justice statistics; Criminal justice system analysis; Criminal justice system effectiveness; Criminal justice system reform; Cross-cultural comparisons; Socioculture; Sociological analyses; Sociology; Sociology of law; US/foreign comparisons
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