Law and Method

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January, 2023 Expand all abstracts

Access_open Interdisciplinary Methodological Approaches to Desk-Based Socio-legal Human Rights Research

Keywords positionality, reflexivity, socio-legal human rights research, right to health
Authors Thomas Peck
AbstractAuthor's information

    As legal study adopts more interdisciplinary approaches and assimilates with other disciplines such as sociology, politics and business, there is a growing need to pay greater attention to the research methods and methodologies from across the academic spectrum. Doing so creates opportunities to borrow and employ methodological techniques and insights from disciplines across the spectrum of the social sciences. In this work I examine how socio-legal methodologies may be informed by approaches within the wider social sciences and explore how borrowed elements such as research ethics, reflexivity, and positionality, can be understood and utilised within interdisciplinary, desk-based, socio-legal research. I do so using the example of a project examining the human rights abuses of pharmaceutical companies. The project sits at the intersection of the fields of human rights (the right to health), socio-legal studies and ‘business and human rights’ research. It thus serves as a useful example of how those borrowed elements from the wider social sciences can be conceived of and utilised within interdisciplinary, desk-based, socio-legal research. This work may serve as an example to those looking to incorporate a more interdisciplinary approach towards the study of law using methodological techniques found across the social sciences.

Thomas Peck
Thomas Peck LLB, LLM, MA, is Postgraduate Researcher at Lancaster University, United Kingdom.

Access_open Quality, Methodology, and Politics in Doctrinal Legal Scholarship

Keywords doctrinal research, quality, methodology
Authors Rob van Gestel
AbstractAuthor's information

    Doctrinal legal scholarship is the oldest form of academic legal research but the quality criteria and methodological ground rules for this type of research have always remained rather implicit. This is increasingly problematic in a ‘post-truth era’ in which academic research is being put under a magnifying glass. Although it is certainly not impossible to make the quality standards more explicit and to require a higher degree of methodological accountability, this is unlikely to happen in the short run because of certain politics in legal academia. These feed the fear of many law school managers to distance legal scholarship too much from legal practice because that may hurt the future prospects of their law students. At the same time, though, law schools need to worry about the fact that not making the quality standards and methodology of doctrinal research more explicit could make legal scholars lose credibility towards other academic disciplines and the larger public.

Rob van Gestel
Prof. dr. Rob van Gestel is professor of theory and methods of regulation at Tilburg University and professor of methodology of legal research at KU Leuven.