Initial Reflections on and Interdisciplinary Approach to Rule of Law Studies




Law and Development Review




In this essay, we attempt to lay the initial groundwork for a clearer understanding of rule of law both as a concept and as a distinct field. We respond to the assertions that the rule of law field is non-existent or incoherent, and assert that a field of rule of law is not impossible to ascertain. First, we survey how rule of law – as both a term and a state of political being – is understood by practitioners and scholars, as well as how scholars reconcile the lack of a clear, widely universal understanding of the concept of rule of law. Second, we put forth our approach to rule of law studies, embodied by the Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) at the University of South Carolina. ROLC supports the idea that a variety of disciplines and factors impact the rule of law, while accommodating the multiple, competing understandings of the concept of rule of law that exist on the University of South Carolina campus and elsewhere.

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