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Multidisciplinary Research in Law & Allied Social Sciences

Meaning of Multidisciplinary Research

Multidisciplinary research is a form of research based in specialized branches of different disciplines with a much more comprehensive examination of research problem from a wider perspective integrated together in terms of research methods, objectives of study with achieving a common aim of specialized knowledge with the help of relevant findings.

Significance & Application of Multidisciplinary Research in Law

Legal issues can not be merely looked at from a very narrow legal aspect only. No law problem can be studies in isolation, legalresearch is contextualized in socio economic and cultural background, hence any legal research has interface with other disciplines like sociology, political sciences, economics.
Multidisciplinary research is necessitated in law as the legal and social sciences are inter connected as explained by the jurisprudence scholar Max Weber: “law is a tool for social reengineering and he introduced the concept of sociology of law wherein law is used a tool for the improvement and reformation of society.”
Law and Social sciences borrow mutually research method as legal facts and judgements depend on empirical and field research.
Multidisciplinary research in law is helpful in action and applied research especially for the Government Regulatory Authorities, Policy making bodies, Civil Society Organizationet al. Illustrations of Contemporary trend of reflecting multidisciplinary research in law. For instance, the National Women’s Commission report on assessing the performance of Act that eh ground level implementation  is largely based on field data and sampling , data collection using largely social sciences research methods as survey and observation sheet among other data tools.

Leading Agencies using multidisciplinary Research:

The National Women’s Commission conducts and funds in collaboration with social sciences research institutes, corporate sector, universities research studies impact assessment based on empirical field research along with doctrinal research on law and judgments . One of such study is report a “impact of sexual harassment of women at work place in the state of Maharashtra” submitted to Department of Women & Child Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India New Delhi which predominantly uses the social sciences research methods of data collection as interview schedule, observation sheet, survey method of data collection.

The law enforcement agency – National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), National Family Health Survey use empirical research that is used as basic foundation in all legal research reports and also reiterated in judgements by court.

Some of the most common instances of multidisciplinary research in law and humanities open up a range of multidisciplinary research avenues as stated below:–

A multidisciplinary research in Law with economics and sociology and criminology for undertaking a  policy research on poverty , unemployment related issues and the social background and its impact on rising crime and law order in society

Another  multidisciplinary research in Law with jurisprudence Law -sociology – philosophy -morality – anthropology for assessing the origin , background and the principle tenets of legal concepts and philosophy with application of jurisprudence theories

A similar instance is law,  sciences and psychology and criminology for studying the cognitive levels, its bearing on mens rea and the crimes , application of forensics and DNA techniques for investigation, examination of crimes.

Landmark Judgements Findings on Multidisciplinary Research in Law–

Some of the notable and landmark judgements of supreme court as well as lower courts have relied on social sciences research methods as survey methods . The  Supreme Court of India, Environmental & Consumer  vs Delhi Administration &Ors[1] It is imperative that all the schools must provide toilet facilities. The Supreme court relied extensively on the “Empirical researches that  indicated that wherever toilet facilities are not provided in the schools, parents do not send their children (particularly girls) to schools. It clearly violates the right to free and compulsory education of children guaranteed under Article 21-A of the Constitution.” Here the law is tested upon the social sciences research method of empirical study.

M.C. Mehta vs Union Of India & Ors[2] refers to using the Impact Assessment , data collection from field by civil society groups and field observation and visit report , interview with stakeholders for understanding the issues and laying down guidelines. Herein the judgment refers to a range of social sciences data collection methods and data analysis.

At the outset, besides regulatory authorities and Government bodies the multidisciplinary research in law is gaining momentum in universities and academia where in more action research is taken up at the research centres of universities, the research students pursing masters,  and related research degrees as M.Phil, Ph.D are taking up this. The foreign universities also practice this as a progressive research trend for deeper analysis of issues at cross cutting level of disciplines. The research is one of the most progressive and contemporary research approaches which has definitive advantages of much more holistic understanding ion issues with wide array of research methods, application and bring out effective recommendation, better knowledge generation and pertinent findings for the betterment of society.

[2]Writ Petition (civil)  4677 of 1985

-Dr. Sonali Kusum