Interpretive and critical analysis is a type of qualitative framework that asks people to make sense of what they are going through. Traditionally, studies in criminology have been more quantitative in nature. An interpretive and critical analysis allows researchers to study inmates in a more in-depth way and to understand the social, emotional, cultural, and other aspects of their experiences.
For example, Miller and Glassner (2004) conducted a study of female gangs using this type of approach. To conduct their study, they used the interactionist technique of interviewing, which looks at the intersubjectivity between the researcher and interviewee to enhance the authenticity of interviewees' responses. Examining intersubjectivity means making the researchers' biases explicit to reduce their biases. Miller and Glassner (2004) also advocate treating participants' reactions as meaningful, even if they seem to go against cultural norms or ideas. For example, in their study, they regarded female gang members as intelligent, though this is contrary to cultural stereotypes. These types of studies, as Miner-Romanoff (2012) writes, are important because they implement carefully thought-out methodologies for interviewing and collecting data, as well as for interpreting data.
To establish the researchers' trustworthiness in this type of study, participants are chosen to maximize variation with regard to race, gender, and other variables, such as type of offense and sentence. For example, Miner-Romanoff's study (2010) about inmates' understanding of their assignment to adult court included a demographic questionnaire that asked participants' race and gender, along with other variables.
Miller, J., & Glassner, B. (2004). The “inside” and the “outside”: Finding realities in interviews. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (pp. 125-139). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Miner-Romanoff, K. (2012). Interpretive and Critical Phenomenological Crime Studies: A Model Design. The Qualitative Report 2012 Volume 17, Article 54, 1-32 http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR17/miner-romanoff.pdf
Miner-Romanoff, K. (2010). Incarcerated adults sentenced in adult criminal court while juveniles: Knowledge, understanding, and perceptions of their sentences. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Walden University, Minneapolis, MN. UMI No. 3412128.