Behavior on a Beer Mat: Law, Interdisciplinarity & Expertise

29 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014

See all articles by Nicolette M. Priaulx

Nicolette M. Priaulx

Cardiff University; Cardiff University - Cardiff Law School

Martin Weinel

Cardiff School of Social Sciences

Date Written: January 5, 2013


In this paper we seek to offer an original theoretical platform for thinking about the nature of legal knowledge produced through ‘legal interdisciplinarity.’ The context for our discussion is the emergence of a ‘behavioural boom’ in the field of law where researchers increasingly turn to fields like behavioural economics to encourage shifts in legal and social governance architecture. Using a case study which explores the application of a sub-branch of psychology to civil law, we highlight serious concerns attending the capacity of lone legal researchers to meaningfully navigate non-legal domains. Central to our analysis, is the sociology of expertise and experience, and it is from this perspective that we explore the interdisciplinary process. Drawing attention to the extent to which largely “unwritten” practices and conventions inhabit disciplines and how these govern knowledge, we point to the insurmountable barriers confronting lone legal interdisciplinarians. We illustrate why that work, by contrast with genuine collaborative/interactional interdisciplinary research, should be regarded as lacking value from a policy/political perspective. This is not, however, to diminish the potential value of works of a non-collaborative nature. Noting the value of interdisciplinary work of a more provisional and creative character, and its critical importance to the legal project, we draw a critical distinction between interactional research and simulated research. This distinction we argue proves critical to identifying what interdisciplinary work can lend itself to policy application and that which cannot, as well as accommodating the fullest range of interdisciplinary research efforts to flourish.

Keywords: law, behaviour, expertise, interdisciplinarity, knowledge, tacit knowledge

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K40, L12, K49

Suggested Citation

Priaulx, Nicolette M. and Weinel, Martin, Behavior on a Beer Mat: Law, Interdisciplinarity & Expertise (January 5, 2013). Journal of Law, Technology and Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Nicolette M. Priaulx (Contact Author)

Cardiff University ( email )

PO Box 427
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3AX
United Kingdom

Cardiff University - Cardiff Law School ( email )

PO Box 427
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3AX
United Kingdom

Martin Weinel

Cardiff School of Social Sciences ( email )

The Glamorgan Building
King Edward VII Avenue
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3WT
United Kingdom

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