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Insurance in Sociolegal Research

25 Pages Posted: 11 May 2010  

Tom Baker

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 3, 2010


Insurance has a long history in socio-legal research, most prominently as a window on accident compensation and related tort law in action. Recent work has extended that research, with the result that tort law in action may be the best mapped of any legal field outside criminal law. Sociological research has begun to explore insurance as a form of governance, with effects in many legal fields and across the economy. This essay reviews developments in both bodies of work. Part one examines the relationship between liability insurance and tort law in action using the metaphors of window and frame. Part two reviews research on insurance as governance. The conclusion returns to insurance as governance in the context of liability insurance, arguing that this is an especially promising field for socio-legal research.

Keywords: Tort law in action, accident compensation, liability insurance as governance, decision-making, governance in other fields of law, governance in economics, risk, law and society

JEL Classification: G22, K13

Suggested Citation

Baker, Tom, Insurance in Sociolegal Research (May 3, 2010). U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 10-07. Available at SSRN: or

Tom Baker (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-746-2185 (Phone)


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