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Comparative Methodologies and Global Law




Series: Whose Global Law? Comparative, Regional and Methodological Lenses

The process of globalisation has fundamentally changed the purpose and remit of international law, fuelling a mounting interaction between international and domestic law and politics. The world order, and by extension the reach and limit of public authority, is increasingly globalised, privatised, and individualised, as a multitude of actors (state, non-state, public, private, individuals) now operate and make meaningful contributions to the legal and political world. In connection with this process of globalisation, the question arose whether a notion of ‘global law’ had arisen, giving rise to a convergence of agreed standards, practices, and values.

Comparative scholarship has played a key role in identifying, affirming, or disregarding the existence and development of globally converged norms. This event reflects on that contribution from a methodological perspective. How should country samples be selected for study, and why? Should we measure similarity, or difference? This panel hears from leading scholars with experience in comparison from empirical, doctrinal, and theoretical perspectives.


Veronika Fikfak, University of Cambridge

Empirical approaches to quantifying pain and suffering

Dr Fikfak will present her empirical project relating to damages before the ECtHR. She will discuss the benefits and challenges of conducting quantitative work on a large dataset, describe the methodological choices that a researcher has to make, and then emphasise the ethical dilemmas in presenting and publishing the results of one’s work.

Liora Lazarus, Universty of Oxford

Global Perspectives and Local Knowledge: Seeing Similarity/ Finding Difference

Dr Lazarus returns to some of the methodological claims made in her book Contrasting Prisoners Rights (OUP). In this work, Dr Lazarus asserted that the comparative examination of human rights is inextricable from the drive to globalise law. It is the task of comparative human rights researchers to ensure that their normative commitment to global rights standards do not cause them to downplay or overlook the presence of difference. Similarly, those advocating for policy change in a particular domestic context may overstate between local law or policy and difference abroad. Therefore, comparativists “must walk a tightrope between respect for local variation and the assertion of generalizable truths” (p10).

Jacco Bomhoff, London School of Economics

Comparative Dysfunctionalism: Studying Legal Failure Comparatively

Dr Bomhoff will present an open-ended discussion on the theme of legal failures and how to study them in comparative perspective. Is it true that both functionalist and meaning-oriented comparisons are too often focused on law's success-stories? Is there a way to define 'legal failure' or 'sub-optimal outcomes', or 'second-best results', etc. so as to make them suitable as a category for cross-jurisdictional comparison? What would such a comparison look at, and look like? And what can we say about the ethics for the comparative scholar of adopting such an approach?

Elizabeth O’Loughlin, City Law School (Chair)

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When and where

6.00pm - 7.30pmTuesday 18th June 2019

AG01 College Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1V 4PB United Kingdom