Recursivity of Global Normmaking: A Sociolegal Agenda

Posted: 4 Jun 2010

Date Written: December 2009


This review proposes that the recursivity of law offers a promising framework for sociolegal and interdisciplinary research on global norm-making. The recursivity approach is systematic, generates hypotheses and questions about global actors and mechanisms, takes seriously historical contingency, and is inherently comparative across issue areas and different levels of governance. In global lawmaking, recursivity proceeds principally through the intersection of three interacting cycles of global normmaking, national lawmaking, and the interaction between the two. With particular focus on genocide and war crimes, violence against women, trade law, and climate change, the review demonstrates how four mechanisms — actor mismatch, diagnostic struggles, contradictions, and indeterminacy — drive forward these cycles of reform until the inherent tensions within them are resolved and normmaking settles. A sociolegal approach to the recursivity of global normmaking emphasizes (a) the politics of the legal complex, (b) the constitutive power of legal concepts, (c) the structure and dynamics of global regulatory institutions, and (d) the formal properties of global law. The review concludes with generalizations about global normmaking and particularly promising topics for sociolegal scholarship.

Suggested Citation

Halliday, Terence C., Recursivity of Global Normmaking: A Sociolegal Agenda (December 2009). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 5, pp. 263-289, 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Terence C. Halliday (Contact Author)

American Bar Foundation ( email )

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

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics