Interdisciplinarity in judicial decision-making: exploring the role of social science in Australian labour law cases

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In Australia, the use of social science information in judicial reasoning is under-explored, especially in labour law. Yet historical, economic and other information from the social sciences will frequently be relevant to labour law disputes. This article analyses selected court decisions where reliance on judicial intuition has resulted in controversial outcomes, and rare cases in which social science studies informed judicial reasoning. The article does not advocate a rapid escalation in the use of social science evidence, but suggests two preliminary steps that should precede any proposal to reform litigation practices. First, an expansion in the scope of legal education is necessary to ensure law students, advocates and judges are equipped to evaluate social science research methods and perspectives. Second, the article calls on labour law scholars to increase their engagement with social science information to demonstrate its relevance to contentious issues that arise in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-273
Number of pages42
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Interdisciplinarity
  • labour law
  • social science
  • Judges

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