Globalization of Law

Posted: 11 Jan 2008

See all articles by Terence C. Halliday

Terence C. Halliday

American Bar Foundation

Pavel Osinsky

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology


Globalization of law may be defined as the worldwide progression of transnational legal structures and discourses along the dimensions of extensity, intensity, velocity, and impact. We propose that a theory of the global penetration of law will require at least four elements-actors, mechanisms, power, and structures and arenas. A comparison of four approaches to globalization and law-world polity, world systems, postcolonial globalism, and law and economic development-indicates considerable variation in perceived outcomes and gaps in explanation, but with possible complementarities in both outcomes and explanatory factors. Research demonstrates that globalization is variably contested in several domains of research on law: (a) the construction and regulation of global markets, (b) crimes against humanity and genocide, (c) the diffusion of political liberalism and constitutionalism, and (d) the institutionalization of women's rights. We propose that the farther globalizing legal norms and practices are located from core local cultural institutions and beliefs, the less likely global norms will provoke explicit contestation and confrontation. Future research will be productively directed to where and how global law originates, how and when global norms and law are transmitted and enforced, and how global-local settlements are negotiated.

Keywords: globalization, law, social change

Suggested Citation

Halliday, Terence C. and Osinsky, Pavel, Globalization of Law. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 32, August 2006, Available at SSRN:

Terence C. Halliday (Contact Author)

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Pavel Osinsky

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology ( email )

1810 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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