The Futures We Want in Numbers: Searching Legal Indicators for a Better World

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:45-12:15
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
RC12 Sociology of Law (host committee)

Language: English

Following on the premise of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission that “what we measure affects what we do”, this session addresses the topic of legal metrics and social change. The emergence of transnational legal indicators in the past ten years has made a notable impact on decision-making processes regarding law in society, and has become an area of socio-legal inquiry of contemporary relevance. Policy-makers in national and international organisations, managers in transnational corporations, and lawyers in global law firms are increasingly expected to make evidence-based decisions with the support of legal measures.
Is a given country’s legal system more inducing to socio-economic development relative to another? Does it protect adequately shareholders’ or workers’ rights? Does it ensure legal certainty and law enforcement? 
We ask: What are the characteristics of the knowledge produced by existing national and transnational legal indicators (e.g. Doing Business Index, Global Rights Index, Rule of Law Index, National Justice Statistics), and how is it used to assess the performance of legal systems? What is lost or hidden when translating complex social phenomena into legal metrics? How does the use of (small or big) data change decision-making practices? Are current legal indicators adequate tools to measure socio-legal progress? Can they be improved? 
We invite scholars to explore the topic from a variety of perspectives: 

  • empirical and analytical insights into how indicators are used in practice and by whom; 
  • theoretical insights into questions of legal phenomena’s commensurability;
  • methodological analyses of specific indicators’ design;
  • historical perspectives on legal indicators’ origins.
Session Organizer:
Pedro Rubim BORGES FORTES, FGV, Brazil
Cristina GOLOMOZ, University of Oxford, United Kingdom


    Roundtable A
    Roundtable B
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