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Artikel

Access_open Teaching Socio-Legal Research Methodology: Participant Observation. Special Issue on Active Learning and Teaching in Legal Education

Journal Law and Method, January 2019
Keywords Participant observation, sociolegal research, methodology, teaching
Authors Marc A. Simon Thomas
AbstractAuthor's information

    The basics of how to conduct participant observation are not taught in law schools. This is striking because this methodology has become a common feature of qualitative research and could be very useful in sociolegal research. For those interested in studying ‘law in practice’ instead of ‘law in the books’, qualitative research methods like participant observation are inevitable. However, participant observation is, at best, secondary in the literature on qualitative research in the sociolegal discipline, while there is no guidance on how to conduct this technique whatsoever.Therefore, this article is written with two audiences in mind: It should serve as a useful reference and guide for those who teach qualitative research methods in legal education and who are looking to enhance their knowledge and skills concerning participant observation; it is also meant to serve as a basic primer for the beginning sociolegal researcher who is about to become a participating observer for the first time.


Marc A. Simon Thomas
Utrecht University, School of Law, Institute of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law, Legal Theory; m.a.simonthomas@uu.nl.
Boekbespreking

Access_open Kestemont, Handbook on Legal Methodology. A Review

(Book review of Kestemont, L. (2018). Handbook on Legal Methodology. From Objective to Method. Cambridge: Intersentia, xiii + 97 pp.)

Journal Law and Method, January 2019
Authors Wibren van der Burg
Author's information

Wibren van der Burg
Wibren van der Burg, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University of Rotterdam and School of Law, Queen Mary University of London.

    This article introduces the concepts of play and playfulness within the context of legal-philosophical education. I argue that integrating play and playfulness in legal education engages students and prepares them for dealing with the perpetual uncertainty of late modernity that they will face as future legal professionals. This article therefore aims to outline the first contours of a useful concept of play and playfulness in legal education. Drawing on the work of leading play-theorists Huizinga, Caillois, Lieberman and Csikszentmihalyi, play within legal education can be described as a (1) partly voluntary activity that (2) enables achievement of learning goals, (3) is consciously separate from everyday life by rules and/or make believe, (4) has its own boundaries in time and space, (5) entails possibility, tension and uncertainty and (6) promotes the formation of social grouping. Playfulness is a lighthearted state of mind associated with curiosity, creativity, spontaneity and humor. Being playful also entails being able to cope with uncertainty. The integration of these concepts of play and playfulness in courses on jurisprudence will be illustrated by the detailed description of three play and playful activities integrated in the course ‘Introduction to Legal Philosophy’ at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


Hedwig van Rossum
Mr. H.E van Rossum, LL.M., is a lecturer-researcher in the Department of Legal Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and has been teaching the freshman course ‘Introduction to Legal Philosophy’ since 2011.

    Jurisprudence is a domain related to terms such as rules, morality, principles, equality, justice, etc. Legal scholars have to teach the meaning of these terms. However, these are not terms, one can comprehend by just reading their standard definition. These are terms one must digest and learn to use. My argument is that literature or the law and literature movement can be used as a tool in order to explain and discuss these terms. For instance, beyond simply explaining or teaching legal positivism and natural law, Antigone helps students reflect upon the distinction between them. To cite another example, reading Nana can help students think about sex-workers in a way they would never think before. Moreover, the literature can be a useful means in teaching critical movements in law, such as critical legal studies, feminist legal theory and critical race theory. Finally, the terms I stated at the beginning are not only terms of jurisprudence, they are terms we should use properly in order to construct a healthy legal environment. Therefore, to get students comprehend these terms is a crucially important aim. I argue that literature can be a tool in order to achieve this aim.


E. Irem Aki
Dr. E.I. Aki was a research assistant at Ankara University Faculty of Law until 2017; iremaki@gmail.com.

    This paper starts by reviewing empirical research that threatens law and economics’ initial success. This research has demonstrated that the functioning of the law cannot be well understood based on the assumption of the rational actor and that policies which are based on this assumption are likely to be flawed. Subsequently, three responses to this criticism are discussed. Whereas the first response denounces this criticism by maintaining that the limitations attributed to the rational actor can easily be incorporated in rational choice theory, the second response welcomes the criticism as an opportunity to come up with an integrative theory of law and behavior. The third response also takes the criticism seriously but replaces the aspiration to come up with such an integrative theory by a context-sensitive approach. It will be argued that the first two responses fall short while the third response offers a promising way to go forward.


Peter Mascini
Prof. dr. P. Mascini, Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    Legal doctrinal scholarship engages with the problems of legal practice: it systematizes, comments on, evaluates and debates what goes on in law. These activities do not occur in a vacuum: they are embedded in scholarly traditions and theories. This paper discusses the role of the theoretical frameworks used in legal research and has two related aims. First, it aims to provide some practical conceptualizations and guidelines regarding theoretical and normative frameworks that are useful to understand and conduct legal research. Second, it aims to investigate the relationships between different kinds of normative frameworks and their relationship to empirical work. In the second part, an argument is made for a pragmatist understanding of the interplay between normative theorizing and empirical study. How do these work together in judgments about the state of the law?


Sanne Taekema
Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam; taekema@law.eur.nl.

    This paper discusses three approaches that can be helpful in the area of comparative rights jurisprudence, oriented in reference to three different kinds of studies that are possible in that area. To a large extent the methods for a comparative legal research depend on the research question and the goal of the researcher. First, a comparative law study may focus on the sociocultural context that led to the elaboration of differences or similarities in the protection of rights. Second, a comparative law approach can be a normative enterprise. It can focus on engaging in a philosophical analysis enlightened by the differences or similarities in the regulation of rights, in order to propose concrete solutions for the regulation of a right. Third, a comparative law approach can combine both elements of the two previously mentioned approaches. The paper discusses the challenges that the researcher faces in her attempt to use these methodologies and how these challenges can be overcome. The law as a normative discipline has its own constraints of justifiability. If what motivates a comparative law study is the search for principles of justice the researcher needs to persuade that her methodological approach serves her aim.


Ioanna Tourkochoriti
School of Law, NUI Galway, Ireland.

    It is often claimed in the media and in political and academic debates that more law nurtures more research, which in turn should generate more information. However, the question researchers are left with is: What does this mean for comparative law and its methods? This paper takes the context of European consumer sales law as an example of the web of rules applicable at both European and national level. In this context, the main idea behind this article is that looking at law and research as data to be built upon and used in further analysis can revolutionise the way in which legal research is understood. This is because current research methods in European consumer sales law fall short of systematically analysing the essential weaknesses of the current regulation system. In this contribution, I argue that the volume of regulation in European consumer law is large enough for it to be considered Big Data and analysed in a way that can harness its potential in this respect. I exemplify this claim with a case-study consisting in the setting up of a Convergence Index that maps the converging effect of harmonizing policies adopted by the European legislator in the field of


Catalina Goanta
Assistant Professor of Private Law, Maastricht Law School, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

    The article discusses the contribution of comparative law to the study of federalism and decentralisation. In doing so, it stresses the relevance of the notion of federalising process, as elaborated by Carl J. Friedrich.


Giacomo Delledonne
Postdoctoral fellow in Constitutional Law, Scuola superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. Email: giacomo. delledonne@gmail.com. Huge thanks go to Sofia Ranchordás and Irene Broekhuijse. I would also like to thank Paolo Carrozza, Paolo Addis, Ilaria Rivera and the anonymous reviewers for their precious suggestions and comments.

    Sensitive interviews involve emotionally difficult topics which require participants to face issues that are deeply personal and possibly distressing. This paper draws together reflections concerning how researchers manage the challenges of conducting sensitive interviews, including the author’s own reflections concerning interviewing clinical negligence claimants. First, it examines the ethical guidelines that regulate sensitive research, and the challenges of obtaining informed consent and maintaining confidentiality. Ethical guidelines, however, provide limited assistance for ensuring the emotional care of research participants, and we also consider challenges that are not usually formally regulated. These include preparing for the interview, and then ensuring the emotional care of participants both during and after the interview itself. Sensitive research also raises deeper ethical issues concerning the negotiation of relations between researcher and participant, especially when this relationship is unequal. Finally, while previous research has generally focused on the need to take emotional care of research participants, less attention has been given to the emotional needs of researchers. It is argued that support systems for researchers are too often ad hoc, and that providing support is often not a priority of granting bodies, grant holders or supervisors, and that formal systems need to be put in place.


Angela Melville
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. Email: angela.melville@flinders.edu.au.

Darren Hincks
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.
Artikel

Access_open On Experiments in Empirical Legal Research

Journal Law and Method, March 2016
Authors Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos and Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.
Abstract

    The current paper presents some observations on experiments in empirical legal research. The paper notes some strengths and weakness of the experimental method. The paper distinguishes between experiments run in controlled laboratory settings and experiments conducted in field settings and notes the different goals the different types of experiments generally have. The paper identifies important stumbling blocks that legal researchers who are new to setting up experiments may face and proposes that focusing the research in a constructive and independent way is important to overcome these problems. The necessity of running multiple studies to overcome other problems are discussed as well. When conducted in this way, experiments may serve an important role in the field of empirical legal studies and may help to further explore the exciting issues of law, society, and human behavior.


Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos

Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.

    Central to this contribution is the question whether Dworkin’s theory of constructive interpretation as a method of applying law for the judge, can be used as a method of legal-dogmatic research. Constructive interpretation is a method of legal interpretation that aims to find a normative unity in the diversity of rules that characterize a legal system. In order to find an answer to this question, the key elements of Dworkin’s theory are explained and applied to the author’s PhD research. Methodological difficulties that could give rise to problems when applying Dworkin’s theory, are investigated. In the end, the author concludes that since the judge and the scholar use quite the same methods when interpreting law, the principles of constructivism should fit legal research well, even though some aspects of Dworkin’s theory are difficult to operationalize in practice. As a leading notion however, constructivism constitutes a workable method of legal research.


Francisca Christina Wilhelmina de Graaf LL.M
Fanny de Graaf is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, VU University.

mr.dr. Maria Geertruida IJzermans

    In this article the Think-Aloud Method, a method used in problem solving research in Psychology, is used in legal research to gather data on how novices, expert beginners and experts read, structure and analyse legal decisions. In the Dutch legal system decisions by judges are a major source of law. So it is important that law students learn to read, structure and analyse legal decisions. However, reading and understanding a decision does not go without saying, it has to be learned. The data we gather using the Think-Aloud Method are used to improve instruction to support the effective and efficient learning of comprehending legal decisions. We describe the Think-Aloud Method, our experimental design and our approach for analysing the protocols.


Dr. Antoinette Muntjewerff
Dr. A. Muntjewerff is Assistant Professor of Legal Theory at the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam. She has a Masters in Social Science, a Masters in Law, and a PhD in Computer Science & Law; she studied Computer Science (more specifically Artificial Intelligence).
Artikel

Access_open Source-usage within doctrinal legal inquiry: choices, problems, and challenges

Journal Law and Method, June 2014
Keywords methodological challenges, doctrinal legal inquiry, source-usage, methodology, method
Authors Mr. Marnix Vincent Roderick Snel LLM, MA
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article provides an overview of the methodological challenges that scholars are confronted with in relation to use of legislation, case law and literature commentaries within doctrinal legal inquiry. Therefore it employs a systematic literature review and a supplementary explorative expert-consultation among legal scholars of Tilburg University. Although the scope of the research is still limited, it shows that doctrinal legal inquiry is subjected to more and other methodological challenges surrounding the source-usage than one might expect. This insight may contribute to the further development of the meta-discipline ’law and methodology’ and simultaneously allows for more methodological awareness among doctrinal legal scholars.


Mr. Marnix Vincent Roderick Snel LLM, MA
Marnix Snel is a PhD researcher at the Research Group ‘Methodology of law and legal scholarship’ at Tilburg University. I thank prof. Rob van Gestel, prof. Jan Vranken and Dr. Arie-Jan Kwak for their comments on earlier draft version of this article.
Artikel

Access_open Alternative Methodologies: Learning Critique as a Skill

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords governmentality, methodology, method, skill
Authors Bal Sokhi-Bulley
AbstractAuthor's information

    How can we teach critical legal education? The article tackles this key question by focusing on the role of methodology in legal education and research. I argue that critical legal education requires marketing methodology as a ‘skill’, thereby freeing it from what students and researchers in Law often view as the negative connotations of ‘theory’. This skill requires exploring ‘alternative methodologies’ – those critical perspectives that depart from legal positivism and which Law traditionally regards as ‘peripheral’. As an example, the article explores the Foucauldian concept of governmentality as a useful methodological tool. The article also discusses the difference between theory, methodology and method, and reviews current academic contributions on law and method(ology). Ultimately, it suggests a need for a ‘revolt of conduct’ in legal education. Perhaps then we might hope for students that are not docile and disengaged (despite being successful lawyers) but, rather, able to nurture an attitude that allows for ‘thinking’ (law) critically.


Bal Sokhi-Bulley
Bal Sokhi-Bulley is Lecturer in Law atQueen’s University in Belfast.
Artikel

Access_open ‘I’d like to learn what hegemony means’

Teaching International Law from a Critical Angle

Journal Law and Method, 2013
Keywords Bildung, cultural hegemony, international law, teaching
Authors Christine E.J. Schwöbel-Patel
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution explores the possibility of teaching international law in a critical fashion. I examine whether the training which is taking place at law schools is establishing and sustaining a cultural hegemony (a term borrowed from Antonio Gramsci). I ask whether the current focus on technical practice-oriented teaching is a condition which should be questioned, even disrupted? In my thoughts on reorientations of this culture, a central term is the German word Bildung. Bildung refers to knowledge and education as an end in itself (John Dewey) as well as an organic process (Hegel), and therefore incorporates a wider understanding than the English word ‘education’. In terms of international law, a notion of Bildung allows us to acknowledge the political nature of the discipline; it may even allow us to ‘politicize’ our students.


Christine E.J. Schwöbel-Patel
Christine E.J. Schwöbel-Patel is Lecturer in Law at University of Liverpool.
Artikel

Access_open Legal Doctrine As a Non-Normative Discipline

A Refinement of Niiniluoto’s and Aarnio’s Distinction between Norm-Descriptions, Norm-Contentions and Norm-Recommendations

Journal Law and Method, 2012
Keywords legal doctrine as a science, non-normative discipline, norm-descriptions, norm-contentions, norm-recommendations, Aarnio and Niiniluoto
Authors Anne Ruth Mackor
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, the author argues that legal doctrine is not more normative than other scientific disciplines. This argumentation is built on the claim that the distinction between descriptive and normative statements is too simple to analyze the nature of legal doctrine. In the author’s view, a more detailed analysis of legal statements helps to achieve a better and more accurate characterization of legal doctrine as a science. For this purpose, the author builds on the distinction of Aarnio and Niiniluoto between norm-descriptions, norm-contentions and norm-recommendations. She argues that legal doctrine consists mainly of empirical and non-empirical norm-descriptions and that it can therefore be considered as a non-normative discipline.


Anne Ruth Mackor
Anne Ruth Mackor is professor of professional ethics, in particular of legal professions, at the Faculty of Law and Socrates professor of professional ethics at the Faculties of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Groningen.

Carel Smith
Mr. Carel Smith is hoofd Onderzoeksopleidingen bij de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden. Hij is tevens redactielid van Recht en Methode.
Artikel

Access_open Een discipline in transitie

Rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek na de Commissie Koers

Journal Law and Method, 2011
Keywords rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek, peer review, ranking, methodologie, grand challenges
Authors Carel Stolker
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2010 verscheen het rapport Kwaliteit & diversiteit van de Commissie Koers die het wetenschappelijk onderzoek van negen Nederlandse juridische faculteiten beoordeelde. De conclusie van het rapport is dat het ‘goed’ gaat met het rechtswetenschappelijk onderzoek in Nederland, maar tegelijkertijd ziet de Commissie ‘een discipline in transitie’. De Commissie dringt er bij de decanen van de faculteiten op aan om veel meer te gaan samenwerken. Als uitgesproken ‘zwak’ benoemt ze het gegeven dat er binnen de discipline geen algemeen gedeelde opvatting bestaat over de wetenschappelijke kwaliteit op grond waarvan onderzoeksresultaten beoordeeld kunnen worden. In deze bijdrage blikt de auteur aan de hand van de bevindingen van de Commissie Koers terug en trekt hij lijnen naar de toekomst. Volgens hem verdient vooral de externe oriëntatie aandacht: de wetenschappelijke verantwoording (peer review, ranking, impactmeting), de steeds belangrijker wordende maatschappelijke verantwoording, en de thematisering van het juridische onderzoek (de Europese ‘grand challenges’ en de Nederlandse topsectoren).


Carel Stolker
Prof. mr. Carel Stolker was decaan van de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Universiteit Leiden. Daarvoor was hij vice-decaan voor het onderzoek en directeur van het facultaire E.M. Meijers Instituut. In het academisch jaar 2011-2012 werkt hij aan een boek over rechtenfaculteiten.
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