Conducting Law and Society Research: Reflections on Methods by Simon Halliday, Patrick Schmidt

By Simon Halliday, Patrick Schmidt

Via interviews with a number of the such a lot noteworthy authors in legislations and Society, accomplishing legislation and Society study takes scholars and students backstage of empirical scholarship, displaying the messy truth of analysis equipment. The demanding situations and the uncertainties, so usually lacking from study tools textbooks, are printed in candid element. those obtainable and revealing conversations concerning the lived fact of vintage tasks could be a resource of encouragement and thought to these embarking on empirical examine, ranging around the complete array of disciplines that give a contribution to legislations and Society. For all the ambiguities and demanding situations to the social "scientific" learn of legislation, the reflections present in this ebook - jointly shooting a portrait of the sector during the window of the learn efforts - separately remind readers that "good learn" screens now not a scarcity of difficulties, however the care taken in negotiating them.

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Could you say a little about the process of dealing with your notes and your recollections in terms of translating that into data that could be analyzed? 30 ROBERT KAGAN AND REGULATORY JUSTICE Kagan: It was pretty simple. I would carry a little notebook and whenever I had a minute outside of a task or a meeting, I would find myself a corner of a men’s room, or a hallway, and write notes – often catch lines that would help me remember a recent conversation, a case, a debate, a quotation. Those notes became the basis for my elaborated field notes when I went back at the end of the day to a room I was living in (in my wife’s cousin’s house in Washington).

Indeed, too exciting: prosecutors and judges were hostile and sceptical to researchers, who might as well have been one of the new breed of journalists seeking to expose corruption. Trying to get access to prosecutors’ files to construct a portrait of their work – even a quantitative one presenting aggregate data – went nowhere. In the meantime, by way of a postdoctoral fellowship, Feeley went to Yale, which was rich with mentors in the social scientific study of law and connections to a much more intimate court system – the one right down the street.

When I arrived in Madison in 1957, the law faculty often went to talks by sociologists who were interested in the criminal law and had something to say about it. While no one suggested my specific project, a law-in-action approach certainly was in the air at Wisconsin in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Hurst called on his contacts, and I traveled to the East Coast to talk with his friends Talcott and Bob – Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton. They were very sympathetic and helpful, and I got two long reading assignments.

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