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Closing the gap between theoretical and empirical research on sociology of human rights; a common conceptualisation for both sides

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The advancement of sociology walks on two feet: the theoretical and the empirical research. In the case of sociology of human rights, the disconection between this two branches may be the reason which could explain why this science is not yet firmly established. It is paid more attention to the theoretical field in Europe. In Richard P. Claude’s words, “Comparative literature on the politico-legal history of righs and liberties is neither extensive nor systematic. French, German, British and Scandinavian scholars have shown a greater willingness than have Americans to generalize about staged development of rights and liberties and to scan lengthy historical periods”(CLAUDE: 1976, 6). On the other hand, the empirical research (and particularly the statistical research) has been developed mainly in the United States. But there´s a lack of conection between them. The theoretical branch is somehow captive to the grand theory programm, and so it is not still sufficiently qualified for linking its description of the human rights evolution to the other big trends of social change: urbanization, capitalist economy development, nation-state model widening in politics, population schooling, and so on. The sociological theory should answer the question: what are the social prerequisites for the efficiency of legal norms protecting human rights? Once we can give a proper answer to this question, then the sociological theory could apply its general model to the concrete analysis of the situation in a particular country.
Programa Consolider "El tiempo de los derechos" (HURI-AGE)
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               Papeles el tiempo de los derechos “Closing the gap between theoretical and empirical research on sociology of human rights; a common conceptualisation for both sides” Ignacio Aymerich Ojea Universidad Jaume I. Castellón (Spain)      Palabras clave: sociología de los derechos humanos, indicadores de derechos humanos, modelización para la investigación empírica.   Número: 13 Año: 2010
 Closing the gap between theoretical and empirical research on sociology of human rights; a common conceptualisation for both sides1  Ignacio Aymerich Ojea Universitat Jaume I. Castellón (Spain)   Introduction  The advancement of sociology walks on two feet: the theoretical and the empirical research. In the case of sociology of human rights, the disconection between this two branches may be the reason which could explain why this science is not yet firmly established. It is paid more attention to the theoretical field in Europe. In Richard P. Claude’s words, “Comparative literature on the oplitico-legal history of righs and liberties is neither extensive nor systematic. French, German, British and Scandinavian scholars have shown a greater willingness than have Americans to generalize about staged development of rights and liberties and to scan lengthy historical periods”(CLAUDE: 1976, 6). On the other hand, the empirical research (and particularly the statistical research) has been developed mainly in the United States. But there´s a lack of conection between them. The theoretical branch is somehow captive to the grand theory programm, and so it is not still sufficiently qualified for linking its description of the human rights evolution to the other big trends of social change: urbanization, capitalist economy development, nation-state model widening in politics, population schooling, and so on. The sociological theory should answer the question: what are the social prerequisites for the efficiency of legal norms protecting human rights? Once we can give a proper answer to this question, then the sociological theory could apply its general model to the concrete analysis of the situation in a particular country.  At the same time, the empirical research on human rights has been criticized by an important number of autors (Scarritt, McCamant, Barsh, Scoble, Wiseberg, Safran and Bollen, among others) for its inconsistent conceptualisation of human rights. One could say that they begin to measure before they decide what are they measuring. Notwithstanding that, there is a lot of profitable work made in the field of statistical research of human rights, and good examples of combination between empirical and theoretical research. If the social theory of human rifghts provides the general model, then the empirical research can be useful not only to verify that model, but also to design a methodology of assessment of the situation of human rights in different countries. In my opinion, the goal should be an indicators system of human rights.  The aim of this paper is, following the work of Richard P Claude, to propose the basic lines of a model of concepualisation valid for both the empirical and the theoretical research on human rights. This model is based essentialy on the weberian work, and defines human rights for socio-legal research purposes as the typical pretensions of legitimacy used by states with a rationalizated law. Although this is                                                  1 Próxima publicación en el libro "Towards a Sociology of Human Rights: Theoretical and Empirical Contributions" editorial Hart, Londres. Este trabajo se enmarca dentro del Proyecto Consolider-Ingenio 2010 “El tiempo de los derechos” (CSD2008-00007).   1
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