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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.
Artikel

Access_open Educating the Legal Imagination. Special Issue on Active Learning and Teaching in Legal Education

Journal Law and Method, October 2018
Keywords imagination, artefact, active learners, metaphors
Authors Maksymilian Del Mar
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper presents a basic model of the imagination and offers pedagogical resources and activities for educating three related abilities to imagine. The basic model is that to imagine is to combine the process of awareness, framing and distancing, and the process of, simultaneously actively participate, by doing things with and thanks to artefacts. Artefacts, in turn, are fabricated forms (here, forms of language) that signal their own artifice and invite us to do things with them, across a spectrum of sensory, kinetic, and affective abilities. Modelled in this way, imagination plays a crucial role in legal reasoning, and is exemplified by the following kinds of artefacts in legal discourse: fictions, metaphors, hypothetical scenarios and figuration. These artefacts and their related processes of imagination are vital to legal reasoning at many levels, including the level of the individual lawyer or judge, the level of interaction in courtrooms, and the level of legal language over time. The paper offers nine learning activities corresponding to educating three abilities in the legal context: 1) to take epistemic distance and participate; 2) to generate alternatives and possibilities; and 3) to construct mental imagery.


Maksymilian Del Mar
Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London.

    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.

    Comparative methodology is an important and a widely used method in the legal literature. This method is important inter alia to search for alternative national rules and acquire a deeper understanding of a country’s law. According to a survey of over 500 Dutch legal scholars, 61 per cent conducts comparative research (in some form). However, the methodological application of comparative research generally leaves much to be desired. This is particularly true when it comes to case selection. This applies in particular to conceptual and dogmatic research questions, possibly also allowing causal explanations for differences between countries. This article suggests that the use of an interdisciplinary research design could be helpful, and Hofstede’s cultural-psychological dimensions can offer a solution to improve the methodology of selection criteria.


Dave van Toor
D.A.G. van Toor, PhD LLM BSc works as a researcher and lecturer in Criminal (Procedural) Law and Criminology at the Universität Bielefeld.

    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.

Gijs van Dijck

Sanne Taekema

    This article examines the main assumptions and theoretical underpinnings of case study method in legal studies. It considers the importance of research design, including the crucial roles of the academic literature review, the research question and the use of rival theories to develop hypotheses and the practice of identifying the observable implications of those hypotheses. It considers the selection of data sources and modes of analysis to allow for valid analytical inferences to be drawn in respect of them. In doing so it considers, in brief, the importance of case study selection and variations such as single or multi case approaches. Finally it provides thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses associated with undertaking socio-legal and comparative legal research via a case study method, addressing frequent stumbling blocks encountered by legal researchers, as well as ways to militate them. It is written with those new to the method in mind.


Lisa Webley
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.

    In this paper, an attempt is made to work out a methodology for comparative legal research, which goes beyond the ‘functional method’ or methodological scepticism.
    The starting point is the idea that we need a ‘toolbox’, not a fixed methodological road map, and that a lot of published, but largely unnoticed, research outside rule and case oriented comparative law offers varying approaches, which could usefully be applied in comparative research. Six methods have been identified: the functional method, the structural one, the analytical one, the law-in-context method, the historical method, and the common core method. Basically, it is the aim of the research and the research question that will determine which methods could be useful. Moreover, different methods may be combined, as they are complementary and not mutually exclusive.This paper focuses on scholarly comparative legal research, not on the use of foreign law by legislators or courts, but, of course, the methodological questions and answers will largely overlap.


Mark Van Hoecke
Professor of Comparative Law at Queen Mary University of London, and Professor of Legal Theory and Comparative Law at Ghent University

    This paper raises two methodological questions from a philosophical perspective: (i) what is involved in a functionalist approach to law and (ii) what should be the focus of such an approach? To answer these questions, I will take two steps with both. To begin with, I argue that Pettit’s view on functionalist approaches may be made relevant for law; functionalist accounts target a virtual mechanism that explains why a system will be resilient under changes in either the system or its environment. Secondly, I make a distinction between two interpretations of his key-concept ‘resilience’, one in mechanical, the other in teleological terms. With regard to the second question I will take two steps as well. I argue why it does not make sense to ascribe wide functions to law, followed by a plea for a limited view on the function of law. This limited view is based on a teleological understanding of the law’s resilience. I argue that these two modes are interrelated in ways that are relevant for the interdisciplinary study of law.


Bert van Roermund

    This article addresses the problem of qualitative interviewing in the field of legal studies, and more precisely the practice of interviewing judges. In the last five years the authors of this article conducted two different research projects which involved interviewing judges as a research method. In this article the authors share their experience and views on the qualitative interviewing method, and provide the reader with an overview of the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ attached to this tool, but also its advantages and disadvantages.


Urszula Jaremba
Urszula Jaremba is an Assistant Professor of EU Law at Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)

Elaine Dr. Mak
Elaine Mak is Endowed Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law, in particular of Rule-of-Law Institutions, at Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)

    Vrijwel alle rechtenstudenten krijgen vroeg of laat in hun studie de opdracht om eens een kijkje te nemen bij de rechtbank. Er is echter niet of nauwelijks literatuur over hoe ze dat zouden kunnen aanpakken. Dit artikel beoogt in die leemte te voorzien. Het doel is om studenten methodologische bagage mee te geven, waarmee een observatieopdracht op een hoger niveau kan worden getild. Promovendi of andere onderzoekers die observatieonderzoek willen verrichten, kunnen daar ook hun voordeel mee doen.


Nienke Doornbos
Met dank aan Nina Holvast, Antoinette Muntjewerff en Rob Schwitters voor hun suggesties ter verbetering van een eerdere versie van dit artikel.
Artikel

Access_open Legal Dogmatics and Academic Education

Journal Law and Method, February 2013
Keywords legal dogmatics, theory design, academic education, empirical cycle
Authors Jan Struiksma
AbstractAuthor's information

    Previously a model was developed whereby the evolution of dogmatic legal theory design can be made more explicit. This concerns, amongst other aspects, the application of the empirical cycle constructed by De Groot, which forms the final element of an evolution of the application of mundane knowledge to theory design. The starting point of this article is that this evolution must be ‘repeated’ during an academic study in empirical subjects. The objective is to investigate how this is done in the legal dogmatic education.


Jan Struiksma
Jan Struiksma is professor of administrative law at the Faculty of Law, Free University Amsterdam.
Artikel

Access_open Exciting Times for Legal Scholarship

Journal Law and Method, February 2012
Keywords legal methodology, law as an academic discipline, ‘law and …’-movements, legal theory, innovative and multiform legal scholarship
Authors Jan Vranken
AbstractAuthor's information

    Until recently, legal-dogmatic research stood at the undisputed pinnacle of legal scientific research. The last few years saw increasing criticism, both nationally and internationally, levelled at this type of research or at its dominant role. Some see this as a crisis in legal scholarship, but a closer look reveals a great need for facts, common sense, and nuance. Critics usually base their calls for innovation on a one-dimensional and flawed image of legal-dogmatic research. In this article, the author subsequently addresses the various critical opinions themselves and provide an overview of the innovations that are proposed. He concludes that there are a lot of efforts to innovate legal scholarship, and that the field is more multiform than ever, which is a wonderful and unprecedented state of affairs. This multiformity should be cherished and given plenty of room to develop and grow, because most innovative movements are still fledgling and need time, sometimes a lot of time, to increase in quality. It would be a shame to nip them in the bud now, merely because they are still finding their way. In turn, none of these innovative movements have cause to disqualify legal-dogmatic research, as sometimes happens (implicitly), by first creating a straw-man version of the field and then dismissing it as uninteresting or worse. That only polarises the discussion and gains us nothing. Progress can only be achieved through cooperation, with an open mind towards different types of legal research and a willingness to accept a critical approach towards their development. In the end, the only criterion that matters is quality. All types of research are principally subject to the same quality standards. The author provides some clarification regarding these standards as well.


Jan Vranken
Jan Vranken is hoogleraar Methodologie van het privaatrecht aan de Universiteit van Tilburg.
Artikel

Access_open The Theory and Practice of Teaching and Guiding Legal Research Skills

Journal Law and Method, January 2011
Keywords legal education, legal research skills, legal research methods, Utrecht School of Law
Authors Ian Curry-Sumner and Marieke van der Schaaf
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to present a case study of the development process and its underlying theoretical fundaments of a research skills line in the law degree programme. Broader educational purposes of the article are to give managers and lecturers of law schools suggestions for implementing research skills in their curriculum. Accordingly, the article is aimed at stimulating students’ research skills. This article will discuss the background to the decisions that were made in the Utrecht School of Law, then discuss the ultimate end result, namely the implementation of a new research skills line and the publication of a standard research skills instruction. Furthermore, each section will commence with a brief outline of the theoretical framework, followed by an explanation of how this theory has been practically implemented in the Bachelor of Law in Utrecht.


Ian Curry-Sumner
Dr. Ian Curry-Sumner is als senior universitair docent verbonden aan het Molengraaff instituut voor privaatrecht (Universiteit Utrecht). Ook is hij coördinator van het research skills-project in Utrecht. Recentelijk publiceerde hij Research Skills: Instruction for Lawyers samen met F. Kristen, T. van der Linden-Smith en H. Tigchelaar.

Marieke van der Schaaf
Dr. Marieke van der Schaaf is universitair docent aan de Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen van de Universiteit Utrecht.
Artikel

Access_open Praktijkgericht juridisch onderzoek

Journal Law and Method, January 2011
Keywords juridisch onderzoek, empirisch onderzoek, praktijkgericht onderzoek, onderzoeksvraag, onderzoeksmodel
Authors Geertje van Schaaijk
AbstractAuthor's information

    In dit artikel wordt de stelling verdedigd dat in een praktijkgericht juridisch onderzoek zowel juridische als empirische onderzoeksmethoden nodig zijn. De centrale onderzoeksvraag in een praktijkgericht juridisch onderzoek dient immers gerelateerd te zijn aan het recht en aan de praktijk, zodat het antwoord op de centrale vraag praktisch bruikbaar is. Vragen van het type ‘mag dat?’ of ‘werkt dit?’ kunnen die relaties met recht en praktijk goed over het voetlicht brengen en sturing geven aan de richting van het onderzoek. In het beredeneerde antwoord op de onderzoeksvraag komt de integratie van methoden en technieken uit de juridische en sociaalwetenschappelijke discipline tot uitdrukking. Het onderzoeksmodel dat in dit artikel wordt uitgebeeld en toegelicht, maakt deze integratie duidelijk en biedt een basis voor een methodologie van praktijkgericht juridisch onderzoek.


Geertje van Schaaijk
Mr. dr. Geertje van Schaaijk doceert juridische vakken, rechtssociologie en methoden en technieken van onderzoek aan de Juridische Hogeschool Avans-Fontys.
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