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Cracks in the mirror

Does European law and society research still reflect European society?

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 1 2015
Trefwoorden Europe, socio-legal studies, legal culture, methodology
Auteurs Marc Hertogh
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    What’s the significance of sociology of law in Europe? Before we can answer this question, it’s even more important to consider the reverse question: what’s the significance of Europe in sociology of law? European sociology of law has been very productive, but it has also become increasingly out of touch. Unlike the early years of the discipline, contemporary European law and society research is no longer a mirror of European society. There are three main reasons for this development. First, there’s a strong pull of the policy audience. Second, some of the most important studies in European sociology of law borrow their theories and concepts from previous work in the United States. And finally, most researchers are concerned with studying law and society in their own country, but only very few studies look at law and society from a transnational perspective. To fix these cracks in the mirror, we need more ‘Europe’ in European sociology of law. Similar to the work of the founding fathers of the discipline, sociology of law should once again become a reflection of society. Not for reasons of nostalgia, but because this will secure the future of European law and society research.


Marc Hertogh
Marc Hertogh is Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Law in Context (Cambridge University Press) and he is a member the Advisory Board of Recht der Werkelijkheid. His research focuses on public opinion about law, with a special interest in legal consciousness, legal pluralism, and administrative justice. His publications include: Recht van onderop [Law from below] (with Heleen Weyers) (Ars Aequi, 2011), Living Law: Reconsidering Eugen Ehrlich (Hart Publishing, 2008), Judicial Review and Bureaucratic Impact (with Simon Halliday) (CUP, 2004).
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