As a research methodology, ethnography rigorously documents broad social and structural contexts, the relationships that underlie and inform institutional practices, and the daily lives of those who interface with the criminal justice system. Through it all, it additionally captures how it feels—i.e., the affective and reflexive experiences of individuals and, correspondingly, their lived expertise. In this chapter, we reflect on ethnography as distinctly well-suited to criminological studies over time and across diverse rural spaces. From studying methamphetamine in Appalachia fifteen years ago to tracing rural access to justice in the Upper Midwest today, our respective ethnographic endeavors engage distinct positionalities, rurally relevant epistemologies, and embodied experiences. As we demonstrate, these aspects—and the relationality they honor and engender—unsettle prevailing social and political narratives of the “rural U.S.”
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 selection and editorial matter, Ralph A. Weisheit, Jessica Rene Peterson and Artur Pytlarz; individual chapters, the contributors.