Socio-legal Perspectives on the Rule of Law

European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

We regret that we had to cancel the workshop on March 12th and 13th in view of the Corona virus dynamics. The workshop will be postponed. The new date will be announced here as soon as possible.

The rule of law feeds on the idea of the law’s independence; it is based on the assumption of autonomy of the law. Since its beginnings, sociology of law has questioned this autonomy in different ways and with regard to its social functions; socio-legal studies have shown how courts and tribunals, while asserting themselves as „neutral“ and „objective“, are social and cultural actors embedded in society.
The workshop discusses socio-legal perspectives on the rule of law against the background of current delegitimizations of legal institutions. What is the role of the rule of law in socio-legal terms? We invite socio-legal perspectives to contribute to a debate that so far has taken place primarily in public law and political science. The workshop will focus on social practices and functions of courts and jurisprudence beyond constitutional jurisdiction. To this end, we bring together contributions from sociology of law, political science and legal doctrines on the rule of law.

Support is provided by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation

Registration until 28 February 2020:

Thursday, 12 March 2020


Keynote: Prof. Mirosław Wyrzykowski, former judge at the Polish constitutional court and former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Warsaw

Panel 1: Sociology of courts, tribunals and legal professions
Courts, tribunals and legal professions form the center of “the law”. The law’s independence translates into independence and autonomy of judicial institutions and professions. The panel discusses how these are embedded in different social and political settings.

» Details on Panel 1

Panel 2: Sociology of Constitutional Courts
Constitutional jurisprudence has long been considered political. The panel presents the newest approaches to empirical research on constitutional courts and discusses the resulting new insights to an understanding of an “illiberal democracy”.

» Details on Panel 2

Roundtable “40 Jahre Zeitschrift für Rechtssoziologie”


Freitag, 13 March 2020

Panel 3: Situated positions in judging
The legitimacy of the law depends as much on independence as on objectivity. Feminist criticism has long addressed gender biases in judging. The panel gives examples of the role of gender in judging and discusses how objectivity could reflect the socially situated positions of judges.

» Details on Panel 3

Panel 4: Critiques of the law from the political right
Critiques of the law and denials of its autonomy have long been part of narratives from the political Right. The panel discusses different motifs in and framings of these narratives.

» Details on Panel 4

Panel 5: Critiques of Legal cultures in socio-legal perspectives
Socio-legal studies show that it is not only legal rules and institutional arrangements that take care of the law’s independence and autonomy. Legal culture plays an important role in safeguarding and embedding social practices of autonomy. The panel critically discusses these contexts in comparative perspective.

» Details on Panel 5

Offene Mitgliederversammlung der Vereinigung für Recht und Gesellschaft / General meeting of the German Association for Law and Society

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