Qualitative Empirical Legal Research
posted by Dan Filler
A big welcome to the blogosphere for the new Empirical Legal Research Blog. I applaud the empirical move because I think this sort of research adds substantial value to the understanding of how law functions both internally and within society. As I’ve suggested in a comment over there, however, I do think that many people in the legal academy have come to conflate the idea of empirical work with quantitative work. As people in coordinate social science disciplines well know (because they, unlike most vanilla JD’s, have had formal methodological training), the concept of empirical work includes both quantitative and qualitative work. This is not to say that the quantitative and qualitative camps are always so cozy. Number crunchers sometimes think qualitative work is too squishy or subjective. The qualitative folks sometimes think that the use of numbers creates a false aura of objectivity. But many serious empirical scholars – particularly those trained in recent years – understand that both types of work are necessary to further the grand project of increasing human knowledge. I hope the folks over the new blog take qualitative work seriously. I suspect that in the next few years we’ll see qualitative researchers gain a stronger footing within the legal academy. At least I hope so.