Lawrence Sherman, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland and Wolfson Professor of Criminology Emeritus at the University of Cambridge
Heather Strang, Director of the University of Cambridge Police Executive Program in the Institute of Criminology and an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University
Experimental ethnography (EE) is a research design that enriches the insights of ethnography with the precision of causal inference made possible by randomized field experiments. Our 2004 paper describing EE has been used most often in urban crime and justice studies, but has also been applied in developmental economics. This seminar focuses on one recent example from our own work, a British experiment in police responses to non-injurious domestic abuse. The work features rich qualitative observations of the intervention with the treatment group but little ethnography of the experience of the control group. We identify the reactivity of ethnography to the nature of causal interventions as the main challenge to experimental balance in EE, and offer suggestions for building EE into the design of more experiments testing service provider interventions.