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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 229627 
Title: What Can We Know, and How Can We Know It? (From Youth Justice Handbook: Theory, Policy and Practice, P 101-110, 2010, Wayne Taylor, Rod Earle, and Richard Hester, eds. - See NCJ-229620)
Author(s): Wendy Stainton Rogers
Date Published: 2010
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: In examining what constitutes reliable and valid evidence upon which to base youth justice policy, this chapter examines the underlying philosophical accounts of "knowing" (epistemologies) and the assumptions about our being-in-the-world (ontologies) on which they are based, followed by an examination of three distinctive "logics of inquiry," i.e., the logical assumptions underlying different approaches to gaining and validating knowledge (induction, deduction, and abduction).
Abstract: Following this examination of theories about what we can know and how we come to know it, the chapter applies the analysis to criminology that informs youth justice. The author concludes that youth justice is currently based on the modernist assumption that factual, reliable knowledge can be gained about human behavior and experience. Based on this knowledge, criminologists can identify the key risk factors for criminal behavior. Knowledge about risk factors in a particular youth's life can then be gained through various data-collection instruments. Based on this knowledge, methods can be designed to change risk factors and thus behavior. More recently, criminological theory and research informed by postmodern epistemology and ontology has emerged. Under this approach to knowledge, crime is not regarded as some naturally occurring phenomenon, but rather as a product of human efforts to find meaning, rewards, and well-being in the context of particular historical periods. This means that definitions of crime and human behaviors will vary from culture to culture and historical contexts. From this perspective, evidence to inform policy and practice is derived from in-depth, qualitative research that provides insight into why various interventions with particular individuals at particular times are either effective or ineffective in producing the desired behavioral change. This examination of what can be known about human behavior and how it is known is meant to encourage policymakers and practitioners to examine claims about "what works." 10 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile justice policies
Index Term(s): Data analysis; Data collection devices; Data collections; Data integrity; Foreign juvenile justice systems; Juvenile Corrections/Detention effectiveness; Research uses in policymaking; Services effectiveness; Treatment effectiveness
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