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This article interrogates the concept of a “case” in court, in an effort to clarify underlying concerns in debates over whether there is “too much” or “too little” litigation. One perspective on litigation takes a bottom-up view, examining the considerations and motives of disputing parties who file civil claims. This perspective includes theories about litigation and social structure, economics, dispute transformation, political participation, and psychology. An alternative top-down view examines litigation from the perspective of government, including its interest in dispute resolution, social control, and institutional capacities of courts. The article reviews and critiques existing literature on these perspectives and concludes with the importance of integrating them.

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Oñati Socio-Legal Series

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