This chapter outlines the theoretical perspective informing the empirical analysis in the book. It covers the naturalistic character of the inquiry, the view taken of the nature of decision-making in legal systems and legal bureaucracies, and ideas about enforcement practices in regulatory systems. It criticizes positivistic approaches to decision-making, particularly those influenced by ideas of rational choice, and outlines a holistic perspective. Perspectives on the enforcement of regulation preface a theory of legal decision-making around which the book is organized. The theory is based on a conception that legal decisions can only be understood by reference to their broad environment as well as their particular context: their ‘surround’, ‘fields’, and ‘frames’. Each of these ideas is analysed.
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