A different legal science

June 05, 2024

In German-speaking countries, the ‘science’ of law (Rechtswissenschaft) is primarily understood as a normative practice whose primary task – alongside the training of legal personnel – is the production of practice-relevant legal doctrine (Rechtsdogmatik). At the same time, an alternative vision of the study of law as a science has existed at the latest since the establishment of sociology as a differentiated epistemic practice in German-speaking countries at the beginning of the 20th century.

Only recently have the initial steps toward the historicisation of the history of legal sociology in Germany after 1945 been undertaken as well as the first theoretical and discourse-historical works on the history of legal sociology made available. However, there is little research on the history of actors and institutions in the sociology of law. Christian Boulanger‘s research project assumes that the history of legal sociology in Germany can only be understood in its embedding in the history of German jurisprudence. Its focus is on the struggle between normativity and empiricism, which manifested itself both on a theoretical level and in institutional disputes.


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