C.J.P. van Laer (Maastricht University)

The applicability of comparative concepts is still an open question posed to the discipline of comparative law. Comparative concepts are concepts that are applied in micro-comparative research. They are criteria on the basis of which the rules of different legal systems may be compared. There are different forms of comparative concepts; their relative usefulness in comparative law is examined here. The important distinction between functional or sociological concepts on the one hand and non-functional or immanent concepts on the other is made. Zweigert and Kötz's functional concepts are hardly suited to render different legal systems comparable. This article offers a justification for the use of non-functional concepts and elaborates on their applicability. Non-functional concepts are applicable in micro-comparative research to prevent a waste of time. To enhance the precision of search results on the Internet, an area of practical application, non-functional concepts are useful. The article contains many examples to clarify the theoretical and practical aspects of a conceptual apparatus for comparative studies.

Cite as: C.J.P. van Laer, The Applicability of Comparative Concepts, vol 2.2 ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW, (August 1998), <>

1. Introduction
1.1 Comparative concepts
1.2 The applicability of comparative concepts
2. The formation of comparative concepts
2.1 Extensional concepts
2.2 Functional concepts
2.3 Immanent concepts
3. Comparative concepts of empirical use
3.1 Extensional concepts
3.2 Functional concepts
3.3 Immanent concepts
4. Comparative concepts on the Internet
4.1 The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
4.2 Comparative thesauruses?
5. Conclusions

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