Process-tracing the meaning of international human rights law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter argues that process-tracing, a qualitative methodology for conducting case studies, has much to contribute to the socio-legal study of international law. Process-tracing is the meticulous tracing of links between possible causes and outcomes based on a large amount of data from a variety of sources. Drawing examples from two studies conducted by the author in the field of international human rights law, the chapter illustrates how this methodology can shed light on the social forces shaping international norms and the social impact of international legal claims mechanisms. Moreover, the chapter argues that process-tracing is particularly useful in those inter-disciplinary projects that seek to account for the social meaning of legal doctrine, procedure and institutional structure. This is because the high resolution it provides, together with the rich contextualization of case-studies, allow the researcher to pinpoint the part played by legal form in the studied phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Methods in International Law
Subtitle of host publicationA Handbook
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781788972369
ISBN (Print)9781788972352
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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