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

Christian Boulanger, Naomi Creutzfeldt, Jen Hendry


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 started in 2021 and will run until the end of 2024. The research outputs of the project will be a co-authored monograph, research articles and a repository of project data suitable for open access.


Boulanger, C.; Creutzfeldt, N.; Hendry, J.: The Journal of Law and Society in Context: Methodology (3-Part Blog Post) [JLS Blog. 01.-02.02.2024]. (2024)
Boulanger, C.; Creutzfeldt, N.; Hendry, J.: The Journal of Law and Society in Context: A Bibliometric Analysis. Journal of Law and Society, pp. 1 - 25 (2024)
Boulanger, C.: The Comparative Sociology of Legal Doctrine: Thoughts on a Research Program. German Law Journal 21 (7), pp. 1362 - 1377 (2020)
Boulanger, C.: Socio-Legal Studies in Germany and the UK: Theory and Methods. German Law Journal 21 (7), pp. 1309 - 1317 (2020)
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