The Question of Method: An Ethnographic Study of a Court of Associated Labor
To answer the question of why the CALs attract so many voluntary users, we need to know much more about the activities of the CALs: detailed information on who uses the courts, for what kinds of cases, how cases are handled by the courts, what other options are available to the potential plaintiffs, and the political and legal environment in which the courts operate. The research reported in this book was aimed at answering those questions, using data gathered from many sources and by several methods. The analysis centers on an observational study of the CAL in Belgrade, done in accordance with traditional ethnographic methods. This observational study was complemented by documentary and statistical data on the work of the CALs in Belgrade, in Serbia and, when available, in other parts of Yugoslavia and in the country as a whole. Finally, I have drawn on discussions of the CALs in both the scholarly and popular Yugoslav press, in regard to the concepts behind the CALs and some of the political arguments that have been made concerning these courts, particularly in the years 1982-86.
This multiple-method approach to research is desirable, in part because of the possibilities it affords for cross-checking data obtained by each method (see Konečni and Ebbeson 1979). Further, it is only through knowledge of the general patterns of court use, as revealed through figures on, for example, case types, outcomes, and party configurations, that the particular cases observed can be evaluated. For obvious reasons, participant observation cannot be based on a statistically random sample of cases; one never knows when access will be afforded or cut off, or particular cases identified by a randomizing procedure may be missed because of scheduling problems, illness, or other factors. Thus while one engaged in observational research must
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Publication information: Book title: Social Courts in Theory and Practice:Yugoslav Workers' Courts in Comparative Perspective. Contributors: Robert M. Hayden - Author. Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press. Place of publication: Philadelphia. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 19.
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