What Is the Identity of Sociology of Law?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Arcade Courtyard (Main Building)
Lucas KONZEN, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
This paper aims at discussing the identity of sociology of law in current times. Central to this debate is the tension between legal dogmatics and sociology as distinct fields, a problematic epistemological issue since the beginning of the 20th century, as can be learned from classical controversies about the meaning of legal science. Although it is not possible to state that this tension has been completely surpassed, sociology of law is a much more consolidated field today. Indeed, during the 1960s and 1970s, a new scientific community dedicated to law and society scholarship emerged, and started to reproduce an alternative model for the production of scientific knowledge about law. This paper draws from Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific paradigms to suggest that there is a sociolegal paradigm in the field of sociology of law that can be discovered by scrutinizing the behavior and constellation of beliefs shared by the members of the law and society movement.  Although sociology of law is characterized by multiple approaches to the study of law in society, it developed as a transnational and transdisciplinary field with its own identity and provides a distinguishable scientific paradigm to the production of knowledge about the legal phenomenon.