Law and Society Research Network

The Law and Society research network, located in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, links researchers pursuing theoretical and empirical work in fields traversing law, social science and the humanities. The interdisciplinary field of socio-legal studies has its empirical, theoretical and methodological bases both in law and in the humanities and social sciences more broadly. Its central object is to understand legal ideas, institutions and practices in their social, historical, cultural, political and economic contexts. While retaining significant links both with the ‘black letter’ approach to law and with jurisprudence, it is distinct from both to the extent that its methodology is more empirical, historical and social-theoretical than abstract or doctrinal.

The problems and questions addressed through law and society study and research now covers an enormous and ever-growing range. At the University of Sydney they include the sociology and history of crime, crime control and punishment, cultural criminology, the development of international human rights regimes, migration and human rights, law and family life, the legal dimensions of social policy, accountability, governance and regulation in both government and business, the legal profession, law reform, the globalisation of legal practices and institutions, the discourse of law, legal pluralism, cultural analyses of law, law and colonialism, comparative legal systems, responses to historical injustice, law and social change, the legal dimensions of political change and stability, the social and experiential impact of legal processes, legal informalism, legal reasoning and social scientific knowledge, ‘science in court’ and ‘forensic’ social science.

The network constitutes a focus for 'Law and Society' research across the University and functions as the ‘research arm’ of the staff contributing to socio-legal studies, human rights, and criminology. It will be organizing a range of workshops and seminars covering the current projects of University of Sydney socio-legal researchers as well as visiting international 'Law and Society' scholars, providing a research orientation for the PG research students working on Law and Society topics.