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    This article studies the significance of insights from non-legal disciplines (such as political science, economics, and sociology) for comparative legal research and the methodology connected with such ‘interdisciplinary contextualisation’. Based on a theoretical analysis concerning the nature and methodology of comparative law, the article demonstrates that contextualisation of the analysis of legal rules and case law is required for a meaningful comparison between legal systems. The challenges relating to this contextualisation are illustrated on the basis of a study of the judicial use of comparative legal analysis as a source of inspiration in the judgment of difficult cases. The insights obtained from the theoretical analysis and the example are combined in a final analysis concerning the role and method of interdisciplinary contextualisation in comparative legal analysis conducted by legal scholars and legal practitioners.


Elaine Mak Ph.D.
Endowed Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law, in particular of Rule-of-Law Institutions, at Erasmus School of Law. Contact: mak@law.eur.nl.

Elaine Mak
Associate Professor of Jurisprudence at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Law. Contact: mak@law.eur.nl. The research for this article was supported by a post-doctoral VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). I would like to thank Klaus Heine for the opportunity to contribute to this special issue. Thanks are also due to Jan Schnellenbach, who acted as the discussant for an earlier version of this article at the Erasmus Law Review seminar organised in Rotterdam on 23 June 2011, and to the other participants in this seminar. I would further like to thank the anonymous reviewer of this article for useful comments, as well as Kristin Henrard and Chantal Mak. Any mistakes remain my own.

Abiola O. Makinwa
Abiola Makinwa is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Private International and Comparative Law, Faculty of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. The author would like to thank Professor Nicholas Dorn for his comments on the first draft of this paper. The usual disclaimer applies.

Ellen Hey

Elaine Mak

Chantal Mak
Dr. Chantal Mak is Assistant Professor at the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Netherlands.
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