Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights

Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights

Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights

Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights

Synopsis

In Understanding Social Action, Promoting Human Rights, editors Ryan Goodman, Derek Jinks, and Andrew K. Woods bring together a stellar group of contributors from across the social sciences to apply a broad yet conceptually unified array of advanced social science research concepts to the study of human rights and human rights law. The book focus on three key methodological and substantive areas: actors, or social and political perspectives, including behavioral economics; communication, covering linguistics, media studies, and social entrepreneurship; and groups, via organizational theory, political economy, social movements, and complexity theory. Their goal is to provide a more comprehensive and more practical theory of social action, which necessarily requires a better understanding of individuals, organizations of individuals, and the ways in which both relate to other individuals and organizations.

Excerpt

A considerable gap remains between the international human rights regime’s aspirations and its achievements. Narrowing this gap is one of the central challenges for legal and policy actors, and it animates a growing body of scholarship. International lawyers and policy experts have been central to this effort, naturally enough. But our contention is that this gap cannot be closed with the tools of traditional legal and policy analysis alone. So we set out to find leaders in a wide range of disciplines to help us identify innovative research that could have a major and lasting influence on the study and promotion of human rights.

The concept for this book began with a question: could recent social scientific study of individual and organizational behavior—research that has had a transformative impact on many disciplines, including politics, economics, communications, psychology, sociology—similarly transform the field of human rights? We sought specifically to tap into cutting-edge empirical research that has generally not addressed human rights as a descriptive matter nor converted descriptive analyses into policy recommendations.

Of course, it has long been recognized that human rights issues cut across many facets of life. The field of human rights studies is, according to some schools of thought, a quintessential humanist subject. Many human rights issues have seen rich expression in film, art, and literature—currently on the syllabi of many human rights courses. But our aim was not to add to the considerable scholarship about the inherent interdisciplinary nature of human rights as a subject. Instead, we began with the assumption that the challenges faced by the human rights regime demand reflective advocacy and institutional design crafted with the benefit of the academy’s most robust empirical insights. We were accordingly interested in research insights on topics such as cognitive errors in decision making, psychological and evolutionary pressures for good and . . .

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