Comparative Sociology of Law
COMPARATIVE LAW AND SOCIETY, David S. Clark, ed., Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012
27 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 13, 2011
What is involved in making comparisons between societies, so as to be able to understand similarities and differences between socio-legal phenomena in those societies? This paper considers a wide range of methodological and theoretical challenges for comparative sociology of law (‘law and society’) research. It indicates the kinds of work currently being done, and argues that it is essential, in comparing research findings from different countries, to consider the sometimes sharply contrasting local contexts (political, cultural, economic, etc.) in which research is pursued in those countries. An understanding of different cultures of research, which shape the way studies are planned, carried out and interpreted, is important. Comparative sociology of law depends on intercultural dialogue and negotiated provisional cross-national understandings. Judgments of similarity and difference between socio-legal phenomena in different societies should be self-consciously reflexive; made with awareness that these judgments will be colored by the local cultures of research in which scholars operate and by local cultures of research in which the data they compare are produced.
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