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Unifying the field of comparative judicial politics: towards a general theory of judicial behaviour

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2010

Arthur Dyevre*
Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, Madrid, Spain
* E-mail:


The field of judicial politics had long been neglected by political scientists outside the United States. But the past 20 years have witnessed considerable change. There is now a large body of scholarship on European courts and judges. In addition, judicial politics is on its way to become a sub-field of comparative politics in its own right. Examining the models used in the literature, this article suggests that this geographical convergence is also bringing about theoretical convergence. One manifestation of theoretical convergence is that models of judicial decision-making once deemed inapplicable in Europe are now used in studies of European courts too. But the convergence trend goes further. What we already know about judges and the contexts in which they operate suggests a way of reconciling the various attitudinal and institutionalist approaches used by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic within a general, unifying theory of judicial behaviour. The emerging theory provides a framework to assess the weight and interactions of a wide range of determinants of judicial decision-making across countries and legal systems.

Research Article
Copyright © European Consortium for Political Research 2010

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