The Antecedents of Disputes: Complaining and Claiming

41 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2010

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 27, 2010


This paper focuses on the earliest stages of the problem resolution function of law and legal institutions: the emergence of grievances and their communication to a responsible party as complaints and claims. While the literature on this subject is broad, both in terms of methods and in terms of the fairly large number of countries where empirical research on this subject has been conducted, it seems appropriate to ask the question, what do we know and not know about this subject? This paper seeks to answer this question and to suggest fruitful avenues of future inquiry. I first discuss the primary metaphors used in the literature. Following that I describe the broad approaches that have been applied in empirical research regarding complaining and claiming. I then examine the explanations that have been advanced for variations in complaining and claiming patterns, both at the individual and the aggregate levels; in this section I identify points of general agreement and issues where agreement is lacking. Finally, I propose an agenda for future research related to complaining and claiming.

Keywords: Claiming, Propensity to Sue, Legal Mobilization

Suggested Citation

Kritzer, Herbert M., The Antecedents of Disputes: Complaining and Claiming (June 27, 2010). Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-33, Available at SSRN: or

Herbert M. Kritzer (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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