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Tijdschrift Law and Method x

    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.

    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
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