The graduate field of public law in political science considers law as a site for political contestation, the exercise of power, and a means of institutional building and destruction. While many programs specialize narrowly, UAlbany provides a broad and comprehensive understanding of public law in the discipline and encourages interdisciplinary exploration.
The three categories in the field encompass empirical research within the United States and outside of it. Attitudinal and strategic approaches emphasize the politics of law, focusing on how jurists in collegial courts make decisions. Specialists use models to predict and explain decision-making behavior. Law and society approaches address law as a social and cultural force with significant political import. Specialists address how law functions as a system of social control, as a pathway for resistance to state power, and as a form of political consciousness for laypersons, activists, and practitioners. Historical institutional approaches consider the institutional implications of law. Specialists analyze how debates over law and constitutional development have contributed to political development and vice versa. Public law scholars employ a variety of empirical research methods, including interpretive discourse analysis, political ethnography, historical analysis, process tracing, legal archaeology, case studies, regression analysis and other quantitative techniques using large datasets, content analysis, formal modeling, and experimentation.
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