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Author: Thomas Scheffer
Cases are not objects at hand for legal decision-making; cases are not echoes from a past crime. Cases are, first of all, made within compound discourse apparatus, here the English Crown Court and the procedure/s attached to it. This book reveals the legal production of cases including their relevant features. The socio-legal ethnography visits the natural sites of adversarial case-making: law firms, barristers’ chambers, and Crown Courts. It examines the role and dynamics of client-lawyer meetings, pre-trial hearings, plea bargaining sessions, and jury trials. It focuses on the lawyers’ case-making activities, their procedural contexts, and the resulting cases. As an ethnographic discourse study, the book develops a trans-sequential perspective on the interrelated events and processes of case-making – and by doing so, overcomes the shortcomings of talk-bias and text-bias. The trans-sequential approach pays out in detailed case studies on an alibi, on guilt, or the barrister’s notes; it pays out as well in cross-case studies dealing with legal care, procedural infrastructure, or the case system in the common law tradition.
Author: Thomas Scheffer

Abstract

Ethnographic comparison identifies and analyses core mechanisms which integrate and drive various ethnographic fields. This is exemplified here by what we term, following Luhmann, "the binding mechanism" – which we identify in criminal cases from England, the United States and Germany. By choosing criminal cases as the dynamic frames of "their" (participants') activity and "our" (observers') analysis, thick comparison questions the sources of stability found in structural comparisons of legal doctrines, namely fixed items, definite meaning, and detached contexts. This paper discusses how these features of structural comparison are replaced by more dynamic components, such as becomings, involvements, and formations.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Thick Comparison
We have come a long way from Evans-Pritchard’s famous dictum that “there is only one method in social anthropology, the comparative method - and that is impossible.” Yet a good 40 years later, qualitative social inquiry still has an uneasy relationship with comparison. This volume sets out “thick comparison” as a means to revive “comparing” as a productive process in ethnographic work: a process that helps to revitalise the articulation work inherent in analytical ethnographies; to vary observer perspectives and point towards “blind spots;” to name and create “new things” and modes of empirical work and to give way to intensified dialogues between data analysis and theorizing.

Contributors are Katrin Amelang, Stefan Beck, Kati Hannken-Illjes, Alexander Kozin, Henriette Langstrup, Jörg Niewöhner, Thomas Scheffer, Robert Schmidt, Estrid Sørensen, and Britt Ross Winthereik.
In: Comparative Sociology

Abstract

This short contribution is a response to Robert Prus’ commentary paper “Ethnographic Comparisons, Complexities and Conceptualities.” We agree with many of the points raised and merely reiterate three aspects of our position in order to reinforce the unique features of our notion of thick comparison: First, ethnography has an important role to play in social inquiry. Second, ethnographers appropriate fields by getting involved in them. This involvement enables the production of comparability, which we do not understand to be an inherent quality of the world. Third, producing comparability is an ongoing process at the heart of thick comparison. Its failure and limitations are productive.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: Comparative Sociology
In: Thick Comparison
Wider die Theoriemüdigkeit in den Geisteswissenschaften
Geisteswissenschaften sind der Ort avancierter Theoriebildung, und Theoriebildung ist der Ort avancierter Geisteswissenschaften.
Gegenstand dieses Bandes sind die avancierten Theorieentwicklungen der letzten Jahrzehnte. Denn die Geisteswissenschaften sind mehr denn je gera-dezu konstitutiv von der Oszillationsbewegung zwischen Theoriekonjunktur und Theorieabge-sang, Theoriefeier und Theoriemüdigkeit, Theorieexplosion und Theorieverachtung geprägt. Auf intensive Theoriedebatten folgt ein Widerstand gegen die Theorie, was als ein historisches Entwicklungsprinzip der Geisteswissen-schaften gelten kann. Beide Bewegungen und ihre Abfolge sind selbst theoriebedingt – und dies durchschaubar und beobachtbar zu machen, ist eine der Hauptaufgaben einer geisteswissenschaftlichen Wissenschaftstheorie, wie sie sich dieser Band vornimmt.