Interdisciplinary Research in Comparative Constitutional Law: Benign Toleration or Critical Engagement?

This paper considers the call for the integration of legal-interpretive and social science perspectives in comparative constitutional law (CCL). It argues that two features of the field complicate how we respond to this call. First, whatever the possibilities of interdisciplinary research are at an ideal level, the practical implementation of this call depends on the field’s capacity to transcend the competing views of this issue in different national research traditions. The second complicating factor is the contrasting ways in which scholars from different disciplines and regions of the world have been defining the field’s object of study. Concluding on this score that what matters is not how we define the field, but how we interact in it, the paper maps two ideal-typical models of interdisciplinary interaction – the critical engagement and benign toleration models – and explains why the former is to be preferred.