Being informed from within and without our fields and disciplines

Rachel Field’s recent post DR Praxis has had me reflecting on what has influenced how I approach negotiations and other DR processes as a lawyer.

The knowledge I have gained as a researcher significantly informs my approach to numerous aspects of my role, including DR processes.

But that knowledge has not just come from DR theory and my discussions with other DR practitioners and researchers.  It has also been significantly informed by other fields and disciplines.

The work by sociologists and socio-legal scholars on legal consciousness* has been a particular influence.  It seeks to explain the variable power of formal law in everyday life and how “legality” in everyday life is not necessarily determined by formal law. It can help us understand the role of formal law (if any) in how individuals interpret and respond to issues and problems, as well as the factors that may contribute to an individual turning to or away from formal law.

When it comes to DR processes, an understanding of legal consciousness can help us understand what participants require to effectively participate in the process and potentially how they respond in it.

Are there any theories or practices from other fields or disciplines that you intend to explore in your research or that will influence your practice in 2017?

* See, for example, Ewick P and Silbey S, “The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life” (1998, The University of Chicago Press); Silbey S, “After Legal Consciousness” (2005) Annu. Rev. Law Soc. Sci 323; Abrego LT, ‘Legal Consciousness of Undocumented Latinos: Fear and Stigmas as Barriers to Claims-Making for first- and 1.5-Generation Immigrants’ (2011) 45(2) Law & Society Review 337; and Halliday S, Kitzinger C and Kitzinger “Law in everyday life and death: a socio-legal study of chronic disorders of consciousness” (2015) 35(1) Legal Studies 55.

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