Theory and Values in Socio-Legal Studies

21 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2018 Last revised: 27 Oct 2018

See all articles by Roger Cotterrell

Roger Cotterrell

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: July 12, 2018


This paper argues that socio-legal studies (SLS) should engage with ultimate values, in Max Weber's sense, insofar as these influence law and social action linked to law. The paper sketches orientations in socio-legal research that have deterred concern with such values. It suggests a way to conceptualize values as a component of culture, and illustrates this by reference to aspects of the regulation of religious and ethnic minorities, on the one hand, and business and financial networks, on the other. Finally, it considers how SLS's commitment to science impacts on the study of values. It argues that empirically-grounded socio-legal theory can suggest why and how certain ultimate values come to seem meaningful and relevant in particular social conditions. As components of cultural experience, values relate to law in complex ways, and SLS can and should give more attention to this relation.

Keywords: Weber, socio-legal studies, law and culture, ultimate values, communal networks, cultural pluralism, business regulation, cultural closure, Durkheim

Suggested Citation

Cotterrell, Roger, Theory and Values in Socio-Legal Studies (July 12, 2018). Published in Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 44, pp. S19-S36, 2017. Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 281/2018., Available at SSRN:

Roger Cotterrell (Contact Author)

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