Human Rights Research Methods in Social Science

Human Rights, No. 1, January 2014

8 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2015

See all articles by Fan Jizeng

Fan Jizeng

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Students; Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2013


This short essay is to describe the contribution of social science method to human rights research.The author in the first part made the critical view on the traditional method applied to the human rights realm where philosophers on human rights studies usually entitle the the justification of "human rights" on the basis of unconsensus metaphysical arguments on one side, while many legal scholars have too much relied on normative approach on rights study without considering that the multi-essential natures of human rights.

I proposed to reconstructed a new methodological model on human rights research as a complementary from the perspective of social science. Following Todd Landman Theory on social science methodology, i divided the social science approach in there levels: (1) epistemological continuum; (2) cross-national generalizations and comparative method; (3) quantitative and qualitative method.These three parts have a very closely relationship. The first part, epistemological continuum is used to function as a holistic framework to cover all the categories of approaches in human rights study which can provide several fundamentally methods dealing with different inquires objects. The latter two interrelated and interdependent parts could be functioned as two subdivided approaches going deeply into dealing with the concrete human rights problem. Comparative approach benefits us learning similarity and difference to which we can resort for political and legal reform, also that approach "can help us understand who we are". Quantitative and qualitative strategy are the cornerstone of validity of comparatively empirical approach providing the statistics and data in order to verify or re-test their hypotheses. So far, the pervasively application of statistical strategy by political economy scholars has brought us numerous counter-intuitive results in human rights problem research.

Keywords: Human Rights, methodology on human rights research, International Human Rights Law

Suggested Citation

Jizeng, Fan, Human Rights Research Methods in Social Science (November 21, 2013). Human Rights, No. 1, January 2014, Available at SSRN:

Fan Jizeng (Contact Author)

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Students ( email )


Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa - Faculty of Law ( email )


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