Law Through Sociology's Looking Glass: Conflict and Competition in Sociological Studies of Law
THE NEW ISA HANDBOOK IN CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL SOCIOLOGY: CONFLICT, COMPETITION, AND COOPERATION, Ann Denis, Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, eds., Sage, 2009
U. of Westminster School of Law Research Paper No. 10-09
Law and its countless legal, academic, professional and institutional manifestations, all being intrinsically social, fall within the scope of sociological inquiry. It is, therefore, not surprising if some sociologists and jurists have tried to bring the benefits of sociological ideas to legal thought and practice. Introducing sociological insights into law, a feasible and useful project in theory, has however been only marginally accomplished in practice. Despite the social make-up of law and the kinship between legal theory and social theory, the former being a branch of the latter, and despite the efforts of socio-legal scholars over the past hundred years to integrate legal and sociological ideas, law and sociology remain apart. This chapter explores the roots of this separation by describing some of the conflicts and competitions which arise out of, and impede, attempts to integrate legal and sociological understandings of law. It starts by juxtaposing sociological and legal epistemes, i.e. by comparing the collection of beliefs, concerns and assumptions which are used to organise worldviews and practices of lawyers and legal scholars, on the one hand, and those of sociologists, on the other.1 It then moves on to present the various research approaches, such as Law and Society and Socio-Legal Studies, which make use of social scientific methods and concepts to study law. Although it is often impossible to distinguish between certain branches of socio-legal research, I shall nonetheless discuss similarities and commonalities between various approaches to the study of law, focusing specifically on the (inter)disciplinary conflicts and competitions between them, as a method for highlighting the discourses which constitute the sociological studies of law. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the potential of law and sociology to learn from one another.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: Sociology, law, knowledge, interdisciplinearity, doctrine, competition, conflict, methodology, jurisprudence, socio-legal
Date posted: March 23, 2010