Socio-legal Trajectories in Germany and the UK: Cultures, Actors and Institutions (Research Network at the mpilhlt)

A comparative research project on the formation and development of non-doctrinal study of law over the past 60 years (2021-2023)


This bi-national research project examines the contours and cultures in the field of law and society in Germany and the UK. It employs comparative and empirical methods alongside self-reflective socio-legal theory to undertake a comprehensive and critical mapping of a disputed and ever-evolving terrain, over the past 60 years. It will collect comparative data on the institutional landscape and history, academic biographies and identities, and enrich our understanding of key actors and events in the development of non-doctrinal legal study of law in the last decades.

Born in the spirit of 1968, law and society scholarship is best defined as ‘oppositional’ (Thomas et al.) in that it sets itself in distinction to doctrinal legal approaches, which have developed in diverse ways on the national level. This negative definition is the source of both its flexibility and inclusivity as well as its fluid contours, a situation that, while fertile, can lead to misunderstandings across legal- and academic cultures. Not only is “the doctrinal other” very different, but also the socio-political and institutional context in which socio-legal studies develop. This project traces the disciplinary divisions and similarities between German and UK approaches to research in law and society intending to identify gaps in national research agendas. Further, the project will investigate the causes and consequences of these diverging trajectories.


Timeline and results

The project will start on 1st July 2021 and has an estimated duration of 24 months. The project outputs will be a jointly authored monograph, research articles, and a repository of project data that is suitable for Open Access.

Socio-legal Studies Survey

The project has created a survey which intends to map the current socio-legal landscape and to increase our knowledge about the academic biographies and identities of (socio-)legal scholars. Please click on the following link to access the survey: 

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