The why and how to of conducting a socio-legal empirical research project

Authored by: Lisa Webley

Routledge Handbook of Socio-Legal Theory and Methods

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138592902
eBook ISBN: 9780429952814
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter sets out to explain why one may wish to interrogate a research question via socio-legal means, and to provide a structured way to go about such a project. It aims to be a starting guide to those less clear about socio-legal empirical projects rather than to be a comprehensive account of how to complete socio-legal research. It is the template that I use for research design and is just one perspective that those new to socio-legal research may wish to consider; there are a whole array of creative and individual approaches that one could chose to follow, many of which are set out in subsequent chapters. I have approached writing this chapter in this way as I am regularly contacted by nascent doctoral researchers and those new to this type of research who are keen to pursue socio-legal empirical methods but are unsure how and where to begin. I am also, less frequently, asked for advice by doctoral supervisors who are finding it a challenge to explain to their supervisees how to conduct this type of research. Much of what I say is, thus, a broad-brush encounter with the stages of a socio-legal research project and not a prescription of how it must be done. Projects are as diverse in approach and method as they are in substance. This is just one way of conceiving of a project.

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