Law and Diversity – Perspectives from Legal History

Joint Project

The liberal concept of modern law since the end of the 18th century rests on the idea of equality and universality. Inequality based, for example, on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or affiliation to a class is no longer legitimate. The point of reference for rights and duties is the human being as a legal subject. The classification of people into privileging or discriminatory special legal systems should be a thing of the past. For every problem, there should be the same legal solution for all. Corresponding to this concept was the integration of law into codifications, the development of scientific system constructions that ruled out special law as being contrary to the system, the establishment of fundamental rights and, of course, the codification of the equality postulate in constitutions.

This ideal was never fully realized. The tension between the legal postulate of equality and social differentiation could never be completely resolved. Several old status differences survived in modified form. Some gender and ethnic differences continue to be a legitimate point of departure for legal differentiation; during certain periods discrimination was even reinforced. From social struggles, special state needs for protection and the strengthening of powerful interest groups, new legal differentiations and new group-related law emerged. Under the influence of new social movements, the idea that equality can only be realized through the recognition of inequality and the special need for protection of particular groups has become more widespread.

In the joint project "Law and Diversity", it will be investigated how these disputes developed in "modern" legal cultures of the 19th and 20th centuries. In this sense, diversity is understood as a discourse on the question of which legal responses must be given to which social differences.

The joint project comprises the following individual projects:

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