Network Analysis and Legal Scholarship

In their contribution to this issue Mattias Derlén and Johan Lindholm use social network analysis to show that the European Court of Justice is a precedent-driven constitutional court that is comparable to the US Supreme Court with regard to the citation of precedents. The article and its use of network analysis as a method provoked a lively debate on the editorial board of the German Law Journal about comparative law theory and methods generally and the place of empirical (including network) analyses in the comparative law discipline. For this reason, the editorial board commissioned this “special section” of contributions dedicated broadly to approaches to comparative law. In his essay in this section, for example, Jens Frankenreiter offers a detailed assessment of Derlén’s and Lindholm’s analysis. In this piece, we take a broader perspective and look at the utility and the limits of network analysis for legal scholarship generally.

Network Analysis and Legal Scholarship (joint work with Niels Petersen), in: Vol. 18: German Law Journal No. 3 (2017), S. 695 – 700

See PDF here.

New PUBLIC CHOICE paper on acceptance of direct-democratic and representative decisions

Public Choice, forthcoming (2016) — open-access,
currently online-first

joint work with Sebastian Goerg, Andreas Glöckner, Philip Leifeld, Aniol Llorente-Saguer, Sophie Bade, Carlos Kurschilgen



The paper is available


Are direct-democratic decisions more acceptable to voters than decisions arrived at through representative procedures? We conduct an experimental online vignette study with a German sample to investigate how voters’ acceptance of a political decision depends on the process through which it is reached. For a set of different issues, we investigate how acceptance varies depending on whether the decision is the result of a direct-democratic institution, a party in a representative democracy, or an expert committee. Our results show that for important issues, direct democracy generates greater acceptance; this finding holds particularly for those voters who do not agree with a collectively chosen outcome. However, if the topic is of limited importance to the voters, acceptance does not differ between the mechanisms. Our results imply that a combination of representative democracy and direct democracy, conditional on the distribution of issue importance among the electorate, may be optimal with regard to acceptance of political decisions.

Economic Methods for Lawyers

Emanuel V. Towfigh, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
and Niels Petersen, University of Münster, Germany

with contributions by Markus Englerth, Sebastian J. Goerg, Stefan Magen, Alexander Morell, Klaus Ulrich Schmolke
Table of Contents | Flyer
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Nudges Polarize!


Towfigh, Emanuel; Traxler, Christian: Nudges polarize!, VerfBlog, 2015/4/16,

Christian Traxler and I have published a text on “Nudging” at

A number of scholars have written responses:

Here’s our text, as a PDF file: English | German

Empirical arguments in public law doctrine: Should empirical legal studies make a “doctrinal turn”?

icon-coverInternational Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON) [peer-reviewed], vol. 12 (2014), issue 3, pp. 670-691

Link | PDF