ERIC Number: ED416227
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Reference Count: N/A
Using Social Science Research in Family Law Analysis and Formation: Problems and Prospects.
Ramsey, Sarah H.; Kelly, Robert F.
Social science research can make a valuable contribution to family law analysis and formation. It can help define problems, identify possible solutions, and challenge underlying normative assumptions. Recent studies related to family law reform have analyzed the use of wage-withholding and other changes to increase child support amounts and collection, the impact of divorce on children, and parental decision making about custody on divorce. To encourage the responsible use of social science research for policymaking, including educational policymaking, this article explores the limits and potential of law and social science research interaction. Part II of this article explores these limitations by describing four major methodological problems with which family research, as a type of social science, must deal: (1) measurement; (2) sampling and generalizing; (3) problems of causal inference; and (4) researcher bias. Included in this discussion is a detailed assessment of the problem of bias in the research process and recent feminist contributions to the analysis of bias. It also discusses recent advances in the quality of family policy research. Part III deals with the use of research for policy analysis and formation and explains the need for multiple studies and the normative nature of policymaking. It also analyzes possible roles for comprehensive reviews of research literature in the policy process. The conclusion of the article emphasizes that developing criteria for the use of family social science research in law formation is a formidable undertaking. A proposal is presented for the collaboration of social science researchers and lawyers to improve this relationship. The proposed panel of lawyers and researchers would not be a funding agency, but would be a structured forum for discussion of the family policy process. (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A