KeywordsJuridik och samhälle
Sociology of law
Top-down versus Bottom-up modeling
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AbstractThis chapter provides an introduction to research design in sociology of law by describing the stages which jointly shape the process of socio-legal inquiry. It asks if there is a specific way of planning research in sociology of law which distinguishes itself from research design in other social science disciplines. Research design is often used somewhat narrowly to examine the correspondence between our choice of research methods, such as surveys, interviews, discourse analysis or observation, on the one hand, and the type of empirical data which we need for our study, on the other. It ensures that the evidence (the empirical data) we collect allows us to answer the question at the core of our inquiry in a satisfactory fashion. However, this chapter will use a broader understanding of research design to include not only the correspondence between the methods we use and the data we need to answer our research questions, but also the entire structure of our research including our research objectives, literature review, theoretical framework, analysis of the findings and the ethical dimensions of our research. It also includes certain choices we make in the course of our research, such as viewing the relationship between law and society top-down or bottom-up, as part of our overall research design. The chapter begins with briefly discussing law (or the law) as a contested concept with both a narrow and a broad definition, before exploring how top-down and bottom-up approaches influence our overall design. Then, it moves on to discuss socio-legal research design and concludes with a critical assessment of the research potential of the so-called “gap problem” in sociology of law and a discussion on the limitations of traditional methods of research in digital environments which engender new forms of social interaction and (power) relations.
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