The Sociology of Law as Public Sociology: How Can Empirical Research Enhance Justice

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 14:15
Location: Constitution Hall (MTCC NORTH BUILDING)
Oral Presentation
Vadim VOLKOV, European University at Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation
In any country the system of justice is subject to external or extralegal influences that threaten to undermine it. Judges may be subject to racial or class bias, legal procedures, even when properly applied, may produce socially unequal outcomes. The application of managerial and bureaucratic approach to the judicial system tends to increase its efficiency at the expense of the quality of justice. The legal profession is subject to organizational capture whereby values of profession are eclipsed by the goals of the organization and its KPIs. I argue that the empirical sociology of law is in the position and, indeed, should have it as its mission to diagnose such problems, explicate them and engage legal professionals in solving them. When sociological research articulates issues of public relevance and maintains critical dialogue with professional groups about research outcomes we refer to this practice as 'public sociology'. In this talk I will draw upon the best cases whereby the sociology of law / empirical-legal studies stimulated legal changes or inspired reforms of the justice system. I will argue that the sociology of law has a tremendous potential to affect the justice system, a chance that it should not miss, especially as massive new legal data is becoming available.