Socio-Legal Trajectories in Europe: Comparative Perspectives of the UK, Germany and beyond (culture, pedagogy, institutions and scholars)

20 Apr to 21 Apr

Coordinators: Christian Boulanger (Senior Research FellowMax-Planck-Institut for Legal History and Legal Theory), Jen Hendry (Professor of Law & Social Justice-University of Leeds School of Law), Naomi Creutzfeldt (Professor of Law and Society at the University of Kent)

Description of the meeting

The workshop at the IISL will explore questions that socio-legal studies pose at the intersection of theory, method, culture and biography. The workshop aims to initiate the development of a network of scholars interested in comparative research on the history and sociology of socio-legal studies. It is based on a research project in which we are examining the contours and cultures in the field of law and society in Germany and the UK, concentrating on academic and legal cultures, pedagogy, institutions and scholars. In this workshop we build on, and expand, this outlook to include more countries and their socio-legal trajectories across Europe.

Participants have been asked to investigate, self-reflectively, what they are doing as a socio-legal scholar, and what motivates the questions they are asking and the methods and theories that they are using. They reflect on these issues against the background of the legal and academic context in which they work, guided by their historical trajectories. Presentations at the workshop will thus connect individual work with the intellectual, institutional, and political context which has influenced it, and to which it is in conversation with. They will also provide an opportunity to critically engage with the findings of the comparative research project.

The contributions will be published in a collected volume in the IISL's publication series. The volume will distinguish itself from existing literature by focusing on the connection between structure (such as academic and legal cultures, institutions, and political context) and agency (scholars and their work). The individual contributions will be tied together through self-reflexivity and a comparative perspective on socio-legal studies.

Previous publications:
Creutzfeldt, N., Kubal, A. and Pirie, F. 2016. Introduction: exploring the comparative in socio-legal studies. International Journal of Law in Context. 12(4), pp.377–389.
Hendry, Jennifer, Naomi Creutzfeldt, und Christian Boulanger. 2020. “Socio-Legal Studies in Germany and the UK: Theory and Methods”. German Law Journal 21 (7): 1309–17.

Our experience in Oñati

The workshop, "Socio-Legal Trajectories in Europe: Comparative Perspectives from the UK, Germany and beyond", took place on the 20-21 April 2023. Christian Boulanger (Frankfurt/Main), Jen Hendry (Leeds), and Naomi Creutzfeldt (Kent) were the organizers. Based on a research project at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory (mpilhlt), the workshop aimed to expand upon an analysis of law and society's contours and cultures in Germany and the UK to include European countries and their socio-legal trajectories. The papers presented at the workshop covered a wide range of perspectives. They were tied together by the authors connecting their individual journeys with the intellectual, institutional, and political context.

The coordinators opened the workshop with an introduction featuring an impressive paper by Julika Botschek and Finn Haberkost (both mpilhlt). John Harrington (Cardiff) talked about the migrant origins of UK socio-legal studies, followed by Ole Hammerslev (Lund), who explored the interconnected trajectories of Scandinavian socio-legal studies. Eva Kocher (Frankfurt/Oder) offered insights into German interdisciplinary labor law studies. Liora Israël (Paris) presented her personal journey within the context of French academia, while Pierre Guibentif  (Switzerland) elaborated on the role of socio-legal studies for citizenship. A unique perspective on socio-legal studies in Hungary was presented by Balász Fekete (Budapest). Marta Bucholc (Warsaw) then explored the state of socio-legal studies in Poland and her own position within it. Madar Revital (Geneva) provided a thoughtful reflection on her experiences as an Israeli scholar within French academia and the broader socio-legal landscape. Samir Forić (Sarajevo) shared an intriguing view on the lesser-known history of socio-legal studies in the Western Balkans. In the final session, Klaas Hendrik Eller (Amsterdam) offered a comparative perspective on socio-legal theory, and finally, Francisca Pou Jimenez (Mexico City) tied together her academic Spanish origins with Latin American pathways in socio-legal studies.

The workshop featured an interactive digital whiteboard for participants to record their thoughts during the concluding discussion. The combination of diverse perspectives fostered a truly collaborative experience, resulting in a sum greater than its parts. The Oñati Institute provided the ideal venue for reflecting on scholarly trajectories in sociolegal studies. The findings from the workshop will be published in the IISL's Hart publication series.


For more information: 

Workshop Coordination Team

Avenida de la Universidad, 8
Apartado 28
20560 Oñati (Gipuzkoa) - Spain
T: +34 943 78... Ver teléfono