A sociologist and lawyer, Hans Zeisel was a pioneer in social science research and in the empirical study of legal institutions. His most famous works focused on juries, capital punishment, and survey techniques, often ingeniously using what he termed “half a loaf” methods—study designs that were, perforce, less than ideal, but well adapted to cope with the constraints encountered in studying the law in operation.

Born in Kaaden, Czechoslovakia, Zeisel soon moved with his family to Vienna, Austria. After earning doctoral degrees in law and political science from the University of Vienna in 1927, he worked with Paul Lazarsfeld (1901–1976) and Marie Jahoda (1907–2001) to produce Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal (Jobless of Marienthal, 1933), a celebrated study of the impact of the Depression and unemployment on ...

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