For each Socio-Legal Studies Association conference, you can submit your paper to a number of “streams” and “current topics”. For SLSA York 2024, there are 34 streams and 10 “current topics” to choose from.
Streams are established sections in the SLSA conference - these have often been running for many years and reflect established areas of research by SLSA members. Current Topics - as the name implies - are designed to be more responsive to current problems and issues.
The SLSA also invites poster submissions. Here, you still submit an abstract then (if the abstract is accepted) upload a poster - and bring a physical copy - to the conference.
A full list of Streams and Current topics is below, filtered by alphabetical order.
The Administrative Justice stream attracts a broad range of papers, employing different methods and theoretical approaches, and covering different institutions involved in the delivery and oversight of public services. The stream welcomes papers addressing any aspect of administrative justice, including:
* Courts, tribunals, ombudsmen, public inquiries
* Internal redress processes within government
* First instance decision making by public authorities
Papers addressing current controversies and/ or critical issues in administrative justice are particularly welcome:
* Covid 19 and its effect on administrative justice
* Digitisation and administrative justice
* Algorithms in public administration
* Access to justice and administrative justice reform
Papers may cover administrative justice topics across any area of government activity including: social security, immigration, education, housing, health services, social care, etc. The stream welcomes empirical, theoretical, doctrinal, and comparative work. Papers adopting novel methodologies and interdisciplinary approaches are particularly encouraged. The stream receives papers from the international academic community, as well as PhD students.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Art Culture and Heritage
This stream seeks to provide a forum for discussing the links between art, culture, heritage and the law. It is open to researchers in law as well as in other disciplines. A wide range of papers will be welcomed which can include the legal and ethical regulation of art, culture and heritage as well as practical issues and socio-legal implications.
Papers may include, but are not limited to:
The relationship between property and culture;
Repatriation of cultural objects;
Cultural rights and human rights;
Cultural institutions and the law;
The de-accessioning or acquisition of objects from museums and other cultural institutions;
Legal protection of artistic works, the built environment and objects of cultural importance;
The licit and illicit circulation of works of art and cultural objects;
Minority rights and interests relevant to culture and heritage;
Art and aesthetics and their relationship to law;
The intersections of national and international law as well as private and public laws in the protection of cultural objects.
There may be a link with other streams such as indigenous and minority rights and Challenging Ownership and, in this case, an attempt will be made to have a group session.
Banking & Finance
Over the past year, the global financial system, above all Wall Street, has been in the grip of a speculative mania, the like of which has never been seen before in economic history: the rise of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). SPACs took the initial public offering (IPO) market by storm in 2020, raising a stunning $83 billion in capital. The momentum carried over into 2021, with $115.6 billion raised via more than 400 SPACs in 2021, mainly on Wall Street, where SPACs make up two-thirds of all IPOs.
The unappealing levels of interest rates on debt securities such as corporate bonds highly contributed to switch the investors’ appetite in equity instruments. This remarkable act started a new renaissance of the “equity- era” where traditional IPOs are replaced by alternative forms of listings such as SPACs and direct listings or direct floor listings, and alternative acquisition models have since revolutionised the traditional role of M&A transactions at a global level from US to Europe to Asia.
Nonetheless, since the appearance of Covid-19 in 2020, emerging and developing countries are struggling to deal with the pandemic and the number of distressed businesses or liquidated companies is growing exponentially. For these reasons, Governments, Central Banks and banks across the world have implemented generous measures to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For instance, in the UK, the government has offered loans to businesses through its Bounce Back Loan Scheme; Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme. Furthermore, the UK has implemented a very important reform to its insolvency framework through the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act (CIGA), which entered into force on 26 June 2020. European Member States are following the same pattern by implementing through national legislations the Restructuring Directive of 2019. The same approach is established at international level by the World Bank Group that has stressed the importance of designing specific measures to secure an expedite resolution and restructuring of micro-enterprises and SMEs (see the new 2021 Principles for Effective Insolvency and Creditor/Debtor Regimes).
As businesses gradually returned to the new normal, it is clear that banks are grappling with the twin tensions of supporting clients and the rise of non-performing loans, which leads to depletion of capital. Banks need to adopt resilient, efficient business models to survive the pandemic. Financial technology, artificial intelligence and the use of data are increasingly important in driving efficiency and customer support. Boardroom decisions have become more stakeholder friendly, especially towards employees, suppliers and creditors. Boardroom culture and composition will have to adapt to reflect changes brought by technology, home working and diversity.
In light of this unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, abstracts are particularly welcome from papers focused on specific issues relating to the pandemic, including preventive restructuring and cross-border insolvency with a specific focus to SME or Significant Non-Financial Enterprises (SNFE). Additionally, presentations can focus on alternative acquisition models including SPACs and carve out M&A transactions with specific reference to distressed businesses. Finally, abstracts are also invited from any general areas of Financial Regulation, FinTech and Corporate Governance. As the conference will be online, we encourage scholars and practitioners including lawyers, policymakers, financial regulators, around the world to submit abstracts.
The Children’s Rights stream provides a platform for the dissemination and knowledge exchange of the latest children’s rights research. We welcome papers exploring children’s rights from a methodological, ethical, theoretical and normative perspective at local, national, European or international level.
The children’s rights stream welcomes papers addressing new challenges and opportunities in children’s rights. In light of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment, we welcome papers examining and exploring the theme of digital rights. This year, in light of new developments in human rights law, the global political context, and COP26, we are particularly keen to include papers speaking to environmental issues. Papers may focus on theoretical, conceptual, or empirical research and the opportunities and challenges presenting children’s rights considering environmental issues.
If you would like to arrange a specific panel on any child rights related issue, please do get in touch with the stream convenors. We welcome papers from researchers at any stage of their postgraduate career and in any discipline, which intersects with children’s rights.
Civil Justice and Alternative Dispute Resolution
This stream focuses on research and developments across all civil justice systems in the widest sense and considers the reform efforts to increase access to justice.
Areas of interest for this stream include (but are not limited to):
Reform of the civil court process, including reform of procedural rules;
Impact of Covid-19 on the civil court process and access to justice;
The digitisation of the civil justice system, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and online
The rise of international business courts;
All aspects of the judiciary;
Litigants in person and vulnerable litigants;
Costs and funding;
The role and function of traditional forms of ADR procedures including mediation;
International Commercial Arbitration
The role and functions of ombudsman systems.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Constitutionalism in Developing Democracies
Stable constitutionalism is generally regarded as one of the characteristics associated with advanced democracies. However, emerging research in comparative law and courts suggests that a significant degree of constitutionalism can exist without having an established democracy. Admittedly, many developing democracies have unstable constitutional histories, and the governments in these states are in a better position to control or manipulate constitutional courts that have no power of the purse or firearm. In recent decades, however, some real-world cases in developing democracies show that constitutional courts are increasingly successful in enforcing constitutions and making rulings against the interests of other governmental branches. How can we account for the presence of reasonably stable constitutionalism and independent courts in developing democracies? Which factors (or actors) promote or undermine the development of constitutionalism and judicial independence in developing democracies? This panel seeks to address the above questions and questions related thereto.
We call for papers that make new theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions to various aspect of constitutionalism in developing democracies. Specifically, we are interested in soliciting papers with the subjects including—but not limited to—judicialization of politics, politicisation of the judiciary, judicial independence, the rule of law, constitutional politics, comparative judicial politics, politics of human rights, the enforcement of socio-economic rights, and/or judicial decision-making. We also welcome papers on in-depth case studies for a single country or with a regional focus (such as Asia, Latin America, Africa, etc.). Additionally, we encourage papers on legal theories developed in the context of developing democracies, comparative analysis of constitutionalism in established and developing democracies, and/or new empirical datasets on courts in developing democracies.
COVID-19: Governance and the Rule of Law
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many innovations in the forms of governance deployed in society. These have frequently sidelined considerations that have long been taken for granted about the rule of law, the basis of legitimacy, the accountability of public and private actors in democratic societies, the balance between rules and discretion in enforcement and the subliminal use of ‘nudging’ to engineer consent to policies or actions that might otherwise be considered arbitrary or authoritarian. Prominent jurists like Lord Sumption have expressed their concern that these modes of governance might become permanent. Are we drifting towards an iatrocracy – rule by doctors and biomedical scientists directed solely to the minimization of a single disease, or possibly of disease in general, regardless of the implications for other features of a good society? Would this bring with it some of the indifference to questions of justice and human rights identified by people like Michael Young and Michael Sandel in their critiques of meritocracy. Where should law sustain and where limit the powers of the state in a public health emergency?
Few areas of law have been left untouched and this topic cannot adequately be addressed solely through the traditional concerns of law and health care. There are fundamental issues in socio-legal theory, in regulation and enforcement, in law and science, and in the use of law in social policies for welfare, housing, equality and the protection of vulnerable groups. The panel should bring different specialists people into the same room for a holistic look at the challenges presented by the actions of governmental and non-governmental actors during the pandemic. The panel will welcome both theoretical and empirical papers. There are opportunities for theoretical work on the impact of emergencies on the basis of legitimacy for state action, on the accountability of state actors to legal and democratic institutions, and on the choice of means from the softest law of exhortations and subliminal nudging through shifts in civil liability to the hard law represented by the direct exercise of coercive state power. Empirically, there could be papers on the implications of emergency measures for state legitimacy, on the respect for civil and procedural rights in enforcement, on the implications for social justice, and on the use of discretion by street-level agents, especially innovative actors like Covid marshals. Comparative and international contributions will be welcome.
Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
This stream invites submissions on all areas of criminal law and criminal justice, whether national, comparative or international, and whether on theory, policy or practice. Substantive, methodological or theoretical approaches are welcomed, and papers on ‘work in progress’ will be considered provided the work is sufficiently developed. Both individual papers and panel submissions (of three related papers) may be submitted, and postgraduate students are also encouraged to submit abstracts. Please note that papers on Sentencing and Punishment should be referred to that stream. Papers on sexual offences and offending can be submitted to this stream, but the author needs to carefully consider whether they could instead be submitted to Gender, Sexuality and Law or Sexual Offences and Offending.
Empire, Colonialism and Law
With socio-economic inequalities heightened and highlighted during the pandemic, the struggles for racial justice gaining prominence around the world and facing backlash, and the constant trade-offs between economic value and the value of some human lives, show that the continued interrogation of law and its interplay with colonialism and empire remains more relevant than ever.
The ‘Empire, Colonialism and Law’ theme addresses the relationship between law and socio-economic, political and cultural empire(s), with due emphasis on colonial and post-colonial structures. It aims to discuss how the instrumentality of law acts within these totalities to initiate and strengthen the dominant regimes and, significantly, generates a totalising tendency within law itself. To illustrate, the violent and totalising control by colonial regimes dramatically altered the nature of law and justice (and the state) in the colonies. The particular logics in relation to law and the state so initiated did not end with the ‘decolonisation’ moment; rather, they have continued in the ‘age of Empire’ as well.
The continuation of these logics, that feed into and thrive on inequalities and epistemic differentiations, is not only made apparent during crises such as the current one, but is a perpetual crisis for the marginalised populations. This suggests that while colonialism and empire are taken as specific, disparate historical events, they also represent conceptual categories that are interwoven in history and interconnected at a foundational level. In this backdrop, this theme approaches the categories of Law, Empire and Colonialism from a variety of different angles: law within empire and empire within law; law within colonialism and colonialism within law; as well as the multiple theoretical and historical links between these categories. Possible areas of discussion could include:
Pandemics, lockdowns and their differential impact on marginalised groups
Coloniality and its relation to crises
The struggle for racial justice
The notion of ‘value’ within colonial logics
The nature of sovereignty within colonialism and Empire
The legal experiments in (Empire’s) colonies
Bordering within colonialism and Empire
The encounters between local and hegemonic legal and normative orders
Legal histories from the standpoint of the excluded
Gender as a terrain for colonial contestation
Nature of the state in (pre/post)colonial environment
The creation and governance of the colonial/Empire’s subject
Transplantation of law and justice from Metropole to the colony
Convenor contact: [email protected]
The focus of the last few decades has been ever-increasing globalisation and global cooperation. In the environmental law context, this can be seen within global efforts to combat climate change; conserve wildlife; and protect our common resources. However, this stream looks at whether this age of environmental globalisation is truly still upon us. For example, the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2016 and the potential environmental impacts (if any) from the UK’s full departure from the European Union at the end of 2020, pose questions as to whether global cooperation in environmental law and governance remains at the foreground of environmental protection. It could be argued that we are entering into a newfound age of isolationism – where nationalistic interests are taking precedence.
This stream would therefore particularly welcome papers on environmental law and governance that respond to and/or challenge this theme. This would include papers with either a national or international environmental law focus and would include papers considering specific environmental regimes, or those that consider broader concepts of environmental governance. More specifically, some of the themes and questions that the papers might want to explore include:
Could human rights protections in environmental law survive an isolationist age?
The role/ influence of politics and policy in environmental protection.
Historical perspectives on environmental law.
The role of multi-national corporations and market mechanisms in environmental law.
Equality and Human Rights Law
This session invites contributions which explore issues within the fields of law, equality, human rights and/or discrimination (all broadly defined). Equality and human rights laws are increasingly important, both domestically and internationally, with such laws frequently forming a backdrop to twenty-first century phenomena such as socio-economic inequality, radicalisation and terrorism, the refugee crisis, marriage inequality, hate crime and gender inequality. Equality and human rights are also under threat with uncertainty surrounding the future of equality and human rights law when the UK leaves the European Union and if the Human Rights Act is repealed.
This session aims to explore questions about the role of equality and human rights law, both now and in the future, as a tool to address wide-ranging and persistent forms of inequality and human rights abuses. Papers could cover a wide variety of topics including (but not limited to) drafting, interpretation, or enforcement, of equality and human rights laws, as well as individuals’ or groups’ experiences of inequality and human rights abuses. The stream welcomes papers utilising a variety of approaches and perspectives including theoretical, interdisciplinary, empirical, comparative, and socio-legal contributions. Papers from researchers at any stage of their career are welcome.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Exploring Legal Borderlands
This panel invites papers that explore the uncertainties and interactivity of legal borderlands. Legal borderlands are defined as including, but not limited to: the division between the formal and informal, law and non-law, and jurisdictional boundaries. Recognising that legal borders are often not clearly defined or static, we invite papers that examine social practices falling within grey areas, as well as papers that trace the development of norms and concepts within or across legal borderlands, or which trace the movement of the borders themselves through social agency. In this panel we wish to showcase empirical and interdisciplinary methods of socio-legal research.
We welcome applications from scholars at all stages of their academic careers – including graduate students – and from diverse backgrounds – including scholars whose research focuses on foreign socio-legal issues.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Family Law and Policy
Given the continuing changes being experienced in the world of family law and policy in the UK and internationally, this stream welcomes papers which take a socio-legal approach to any issues within this field. Possible themes of interest include (but are not limited to): Family Courts and Covid-19; Service Users Experiences of Family Courts; Family Law’s Future; Access to Family Justice; Dispute Resolution; Online family law and justice; Modernising marriage and civil partnership law; Money, property and relationships; Domestic abuse and coercive control; Regulating non-traditional families and relationships; Parenthood, Motherhood/Fatherhood, Mothering/Fathering after Separation/Divorce and/or in Diverse Family Forms; Public Child Law; Autonomy, equality, vulnerability and gender in family law regulation; International and comparative perspectives on Family Law.
Feminism and Abolition: Where next?
The murder of Sarah Everard by an off-duty police officer sparked all manner of so-called feminist outrage across the UK, but most shocking to some was the Home Office’s promise to increase police presence on the streets and in nightclubs to “protect women”. Outcry continued to escalate after Wayne Couzins was sentenced to a whole life order, weaponized by the home office to demonstrate how he was the “bad apple” rather than exemplar of the violence that structures legal systems of punishment. Decrying individual men whilst expanding apparatus of surveillance and punishment can be situated alongside an increasing impetus to respond to harm with punishment through legislation that so often is shrouded in feminist rhetoric yet remains harmful to women and marginalised genders. The growing impulse to utilise feminism to increase punitivity is not limited to the UK, and as nation-states increasingly turn to the law as tactics of oppression, prison populations across the globe continue to grow while non-carceral support systems are being deliberately de-rooted.
Alongside a growing awareness of institutionalised racism and state brutality that has swept the world since 2020, heightened calls for feminist alternatives to punitive approaches have been demanded. Yet while abolition emerges from strong traditions of Black Queer and Cripped abolitionist thought and praxis, the heightened attention on abolition has caused concern that its mainstreaming will result in its cooption. At this critical moment, this topic invites papers and discussion of feminist analysis and interventions to both dismantle the interlocking systems of criminal punishment and also build approaches to addressing harm that are rooted in care, accountability and transformation. As Ruthie Gilmore notes, ‘abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions’. As such this topic will particularly welcome papers that focus on the creation, erection or translation of feminist rooted abolitionist structures, processes and imaginaries. Possible topics might include:
- Abolitionist approaches to dismantling systems of harm and violence.
- Translations of abolition across borders.
- Feminist abolitionist resistance.
- Prefigurative interventions into state and interpersonal violence.
- Responding to carceral geographies.
- Abolitionist perspectives on gender.
- Explorations into anti-carceral imaginary.
- The possibilities, and difficulties, of transformative justice.
Gender, Sexuality and Law
This stream seeks to draw together socio-legal scholarship from across the globe and features scholars from a range of disciplines relating to the broad theme of gender, sexuality and law. Past papers have considered same-sex marriage and citizenship, gender identity, queer theory, gender and legal history, gender/sexuality and parenthood, homophobic hate crime, sex education, sexual violence, sexuality and the media, religion and sexuality, comparative perspectives, obscenity law and abortion. Papers relating to any area of gender, sexuality and law will be considered. We particularly welcome papers considering feminisms and contemporary debates in gender, sexuality and law.
As well as interdisciplinary work related to the stream’s topics, the stream also welcomes creative presentation of research and has in the past included poetry, film, performance and exhibitions.
Graphic Justice: Law, Comics and Related Visual Media
This stream invites submissions exploring the intersections of law and justice with comics, graphic fiction, and related visual media. Critical interest in the comics medium is an emerging area of scholarship. Comics and graphic fiction—and their related visual emanations, including film, video games, and wider ‘geek culture’—are of huge and on-going significance to law, justice, and legal studies. On a socio-cultural level, comics are historically embroiled in debates on free speech whilst today they inspire countless pop culture adaptations—from television to cinema to video games, and performance activities such as cosplay.
Comics can reflect and shape popular visions of justice, morality, politics, and law. Graphical fiction content from mainstream superhero narratives tackling overt issues of justice, governance and authority, to countless themes related to morality, justice, and humanity in stories within and far beyond the mainstream, are rich with legal material. The comics medium’s unique and restless blending of different media and types of representation (text, image, visuality, aesthetics, inter alia) radically expands discourse beyond the confines of the word, enabling greater critical engagement amidst our increasingly visual age. Comics are a complex art-form, with multiple creators working in individual, group, commercial, and industrial contexts, raising questions of ownership and exploitation—issues exacerbated by comics’ transmedia proliferation.
We welcome submissions that explore:
The relationships between comics and related visual media, and law—culturally, socially, formally,
The use of comics and related visual media in law—in practice, education, theory, research.
Analysis of comics as objects of legal regulation in their own right—raising issues of definition,
ownership, consumption, value.
Studies of individual comics, series and genres.
The examples above are merely indicative; the graphic justice stream welcomes paper submissions that traverse any potential intersection between law and comics or related visual media—all broadly defined.
This stream welcomes papers that address any aspect of indigenous rights, whether at an international, regional or national level. While gains have been made in indigenous rights, continued improvement in achieving real and meaningful change continues to be an area in need of critical attention. The intersection of indigenous rights with other rights, as well as a focus on new directions for achieving indigenous rights are paper topics of particular interest. For instance, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women held a Day of Discussion on the rights of indigenous women and girls in July 2021. Issues around indigenous control of land and resources also continue to be issues around the globe. There is also a proliferation of activity in governments addressing the forced removal of indigenous children to boarding and residential schools. We hope to have a dynamic discussion and encourage further research and collaboration for those participating in the stream.
IT Law and Cyberspace
In 2024 we wish to continue and extend the discussions and debates we have commenced in previous years that have engaged from a variety of perspectives with the legal regulation of cyberspace and new information technologies. We continue to live in an age of challenge and disruption in the interface of law and information technology which has only been enhanced by the Covid-19 pandemic and what now may come to be the post-pandemic world. While the privacy of our data and the most intimate aspects of our lives captured by information technology presents the law with ongoing challenges, the post-Covid future may embed new forms of state surveillance, which pose for law various challenges in areas such as privacy, accountability and proportionality. The use of social media to send chilling messages of hate, harassment and offense continues to conflict with its role as a place for uncensored public debate, while we also live in a time when ‘fake news’ peddled online creates added tensions for the law. Robots now intervene in more and more tasks previously undertaken by humans, such as driving, policing and infection control, but at what cost to human interaction and livelihoods? How should the law respond to such technological change?
This stream welcomes papers that seek to critically unwrap these issues and which address how the law has been co-opted into the information and technology age along with the new forms of social and legal space that it has created. Presenters will be invited to submit their finished papers for inclusion in a potential special issue of the journal Information and Communications Technology Law, to be edited by the stream convenors following the conference.
Intellectual property rights affect every aspect of our modern life and academic activity. Nevertheless, contemporary intellectual property law and policy is facing a number of unforeseen challenges that have created a series of problems in relation to the understanding, application, and regulation of intellectual property rights. Some argue that the current legal framework is neither designed for, nor suitable to cope with, such challenges. While others believe that recent challenges could be used to further develop and improve the rules in this area of law. The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated some of these challenges and underlying tensions within intellectual property law.
This stream aims to bring together scholarly, professional, and postgraduate researchers to critically explore issues related to intellectual property in a multi-disciplinary forum. We welcome intellectual property researchers from across the globe and welcome papers utilising a variety of approaches including doctrinal, socio-legal, theoretical, empirical, and comparative contributions on intellectual property issues and related themes.
Papers addressing challenges within contemporary intellectual property law and policy could relate to, but are not limited to, any of the following themes:
- The legal framework, whether international, regional, or domestic, for Intellectual Property rights, including Trade Mark Law, Patent Law, Copyright Law, Designs Law, and Geographical indications.
- IP theory, IP justifications, IP history, and IP in society.
- The interface between Intellectual property and new technologies, including Intellectual Property and the Internet, Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence, Intellectual Property and Innovation.
- The interface between Intellectual Property & Competition Law, Intellectual Property & Human Rights, Intellectual Property & Contract Law, and Intellectual Property and International Law.
Papers relating to any aspect of Intellectual Property rights will be considered but if you have any questions about the scope of the stream or would like to discuss a possible contribution then please contact the stream convenors.
International Economic Law in Context
We live in an ever-globalising world. It is vital therefore for the international trading system to provide a platform that sufficiently supports the ability of all players to benefit from globalisation. This platform is referred to as the multilateral trading system (MTS) which, through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) provides a series of agreements that regulate international trading activity. The current agreements were negotiated over a period spanning more than a decade, and therefore has to be appreciated within the context of which compromise and agreement were arrived upon. This is especially true as the previous platform, the GATT 1947 became obsolete, failing to respond to the developments within the international trading system.
Recent times have seen the emergence of challenges that were not fully appreciated previously. The slash and burn approach to land clearing in Indonesia has spread haze with increasing severity to its neighbours. The same activity has also brought to light the plight of wildlife losing their natural habitat, causing some countries like the EU to sanction Indonesian oil palm and Indonesia retaliating by targeting the European pharmaceuticals. The recent COVID-19 pandemic further emphasises that environmental, and public health concerns have been neglected in favour of trade liberalisation and Profit.
The conveners of this theme welcome proposals addressing the need for greater or lesser concern of social issues to be taken on board by the WTO when considering international trade regulation and Policy. We hope to stimulate discussion and further collaboration on these and other questions among participants of the theme.
Interrogating the Corporation
This stream provides a space for those who wish to critique, interrogate, reform, derogate, or defend, the corporate form. Since corporations possess distinct personalities within the legal order, we welcome papers that address specific regulatory issues concerning such personality, or wider corporate activity. We also welcome contributions focussing on the presence and effect of corporations on a wide range of critical socio-legal issues. This includes the effects of the corporation on environmental, social, and employment issues and the relationship between corporations and human rights among others. Innovative papers interrogating the fundamental shape, existence, purpose, and/or societal role of the corporation from myriad visions of law and society (as well as the more ‘traditional’ law and economics one) will be particularly welcome. We would especially like to ensure that all perspectives are included and are keen to hear from PG, early career, and BIPOC Researchers.
Judicial Activism in Times of Crisis
A spectre of multiple crises is haunting Europe. From ‘refugee crisis’, through to climate emergency, global pandemic and the rule of law crisis in Eastern Europe. How do these multiple and intersecting phenomena influence judicial decision-making and the communicative practice of judges? Does it take a crisis to make judges more activist? We invite rigorous empirical inquiries into ‘the black box’ of judicial decision-making exploring the ambiguous, incomplete and contradictory facts as well as different pressures, values and principles that affect how legal decisions are made (Simon 2004): from the neurological, cognitive (Capurso 1999) through to the psychological (Bartels 2010) and rational choice theory models (Segal and Spaeth 2002), to examining the role of discretion (Galligan 1986, Hawkins 1992) and emotions (Posner 1999) in ‘judge-craft’ (Moorhead and Cowan 2007, Tata 2007).
We particularly encourage papers that explore 1) how judges make and convey their decisions in sensitive contexts, when facing mounting political and societal pressures, 2) how they interact with political stakeholders during lawsuits, and 3) focusing on the different dynamics and challenges that judges face in their professional work beyond the ‘Global North’, encompassing Southern and Eastern European perspectives and judicial responses to different forms of crisis, within and beyond their profession.
Jurisprudence of the Future: Law, Justice and Science Fiction
Rising tides of populist politics, climate-based inequalities, and the onset of an unprecedented global pandemic have rendered our future uncertain. Faced with such challenges, law necessarily struggles with the weight of using conceptual frameworks inherited from the past and so must turn its attention forward, towards the imagined possibilities of tomorrow. However, whilst law itself has always been a historically backwards looking discipline jurisprudence has always been a science fictive project. All theories of justice necessitate the imagination of radically different futures and are predicated on the possibility of choosing between them. From critical race theory, to feminism, to vulnerability theory all socio-legal theories are based on the possibility of a better future. Even liberalism justifies contemporary inequalities through its consideration of a future temporality in an imagined past.
This Current Topic shall explore the key themes of emerging scholarship on law, justice, and science fiction, defining that field in its own right. At the same time, it seeks out the science fictive underpinnings of all jurisprudential theory. Finally, this Current Topic shall boldly go towards a future in which scholars interested in discrete areas of law, justice, and science fiction are unified in discussion.
Potential topics for presentation and discussion include:
- Law and Jurisprudence as Science Fiction
- Science Fiction as legal commentary
- Law in the Apocalypse
- Law within utopia and dystopia
- The future of Personhood and identity in law, philosophy, and fiction
- Artificial intelligence and law
- Emerging and imagined conceptions of political community
- International law in outer space
- Jurisdiction and cyberspace
- The regulation of emerging and imagined markets
Labour Law and Society
The Labour Law and Society Stream is convened by Margaret Downie and Sarah Arnell of Robert Gordon University.
The stream covers a diverse range of topics both national and international. We have some regular contributors but are always pleased to meet new people and if you have never presented a paper before we would encourage you to submit. In the past we have had some very lively (but friendly) debates on equality in the workplace, forced labour, migration and the WTO and we welcome papers relating to all aspects of the workplace relationship.
Law and Emotion
This stream invites submissions exploring the intersection between law and emotion across a wide variety of fields and topics.
Law and emotion scholarship is an exciting international, interdisciplinary field of legal research. It is based on the premise that emotion is highly relevant to law and can and should be studied in the legal context. A common approach is to take a legal question and bringing to it a perspective grounded in the study or theory of emotion. This presents a significant challenge to the conventional legal view of law as the embodiment of reason and rationality, with emotion being perceived as, at best, irrelevant and, at worst, dangerous.
Proposals based on any topics relating to law and emotion are welcomed. As are suggestions for whole panels, interactive workshops and other innovative methods of delivery. Relevant topics could Include:
· The involvement and impact of emotion in civil law and criminal law.
· The role of emotion in legal education and training and the legal profession.
· The role of emotion in relation to legal actors, including issues of wellbeing.
· Theoretical approaches to, and practical applications of, the use of emotion, for example, using
emotional intelligence or therapeutic jurisprudence.
It is hoped that this stream will provide a valuable opportunity for collaboration and networking for researchers in the field of law and emotion, as part of the development of a wider UK-based Law and Emotion Network. It will also provide an important opportunity to develop links with, and present insights to, the wider legal academy and others interested in this important and developing field. If you wish to discuss your ideas further and/or would like to join the developing Law and Emotion Network please do not hesitate to contact us.
Law, Culture and the Humanities
Law, Culture and the Humanities invites original interdisciplinary presentations that engage with contemporary crises of fairness, justice and legitimacy. Papers are welcome that take a broadly humanities approach to law, including scholarship from studies of literature and the arts, history, geography and philosophy. There is no specific topic that the stream organisers expect papers to focus on, but contributors may want to reflect from a humanities perspective on legal issues arising from law’s engagements with, for example, the environment, global health, technology, politics, power, heritage, race or gender.
Law, Time and Socio-Legal Studies
Attention to time has grown exponentially in recent years within socio-legal studies (Keenan, 2013; Mawani, 2014; Gabham, 2016; Grabham and Beynon-Jones, 2018; McNeilly, 2019; Chowdhury, 2020). More scholars than ever are exploring law’s diverse connections to time and revealing how law both exists in the context of social ideas about time and produces legal temporalities that connect to and influence the social. Linearity, cyclicality, urgency, reversibility, past, present and future are just some of the temporalities that can be identified as woven throughout law and legal discourse. In addition, a collection of new issues are currently being engaged in socio-legal research that stimulate fresh engagements with temporality. These include developments such as Brexit, Covid-19, digital transformation, and debates regarding environmental governance that require exploration of temporalities like instability, transition, change and draw more scholars working on law and society into temporal analysis.
This Current Topic calls for papers from those working on issues of time in law – broadly conceived – with a view to exploring the diversity of law and time analyses across socio-legal studies; the relevance of law and time thinking in understanding current legal issues; and the common themes that characterise contemporary socio-legal investigation of law’s time. The topic seeks contributions from those who encounter temporal ideas and concepts as part of their subject-specific work, as well as from scholars who are working on ideas of law and time directly. Papers may consider the following indicative, but not proscriptive, themes:
- Law, time and current legal issues
- Law’s pasts, presents and futures
- Law and Covid-19 pandemic times
- Socio-legal transitions post-Brexit
- Law and time in the digital world
- Instability, crisis and emergency in law
- Legal progress (linear and non-linear)
- Legal judgment and time
- Law and everyday time
- The making and remaking of legal time
- The materiality and spatiality of law’s time
- Socio-legal time and methods
- Polytemporality and law
- The socio-legal temporality of legal procedures
- Waiting for law
- The temporalities of justice and equality
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Lawyers and the Legal Professions
This stream is concerned to understand the work of lawyers and the role of professions historically, presently and in the future.
The global legal professions continue to undergo radical changes although there are contradictory trends. Many countries in the world aspire to embrace the rule of law and seek to establish independent legal professions as a step in that process. In the meantime, in many Western jurisdictions’ legislation, technology and competition are driving change in the role, structure, organisation and culture of lawyers and legal professions. As professions change, so, arguably, does the nature and connotations of professionalism.
We invite papers on any aspect of the legal profession: law firms, lawyers’ work, organization, practice, ethics of practice, training, globalization and more. We encourage work reflecting philosophical, theoretical, and empirical perspectives on these themes.
Lawyers as Citizens: Re-imagining the Socio-Legal Law School
Do law schools simply prepare students for practice, or do they have broader goals? Most legal educators today—and arguably virtually all who consider themselves socio-legal—would strongly identify with the latter position The purpose of this current topic is to begin the process of pulling together a coherent and compelling vision of what those broader goals are, and what a law school that placed those goals at its heart would look like. The concept around which we seek to organise this topic is the idea that legal education is concerned with producing lawyers who are also engaged, socially conscious, ethically responsible citizens.
We call for papers that provide critical socio-legal thought on the legal profession’s social responsibilities and which look at other professions which do do so (for example, the manner in which architecture has brought in a focus on liveability and environmental responsibility), as well as the implications a focus on this has for the core. In addition, papers considering how, where, and why the structure of the curriculum obscures the past and present social consequences of law (including the differential social consequences for different groups) and the changes needed to reorient around this, drawing in work on diversity and decolonisation in the curriculum and the legacies implicit in it.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
The Legal Education stream welcomes papers on all aspects of legal education including both academic and professional legal education. Papers on policy matters, pedagogical issues, matters pertaining to staff or students and anything else relating to legal education will be accepted. The stream is not restricted to work on legal education in the United Kingdom. Papers on comparative work in legal education or that concentrate specifically on legal education outside the United Kingdom will be accepted.
Managing and Protecting People on the Move
Migration has been a defining feature of humanity since time immemorial, and long may it so endure. But perhaps never before has migration been so hotly contested and divisive. Against a background of rising populist sentiment and global financial recession, people who move frequently find themselves unfairly burdened with the blame for any and all of societies’ ills. Effective and fair systems and processes that support and protect those on the move are thus vital. Yet, migration in all its forms is becoming increasingly characterised by uncertainty, precarity and suspicion. Moreover, it is clear that national, regional and global systems of migration governance are under immense strain. Never before have so many people been forcibly displaced, whether internally due to conflict and violence, human rights abuses and/or natural and human-made disasters; or across borders in search of sanctuary and refuge. Labour migration and rights to travel freely within Europe are under threat, with the impacts of Brexit likely to reverberate across the continent for years to come. Plus, COVID-19, which has enhanced our awareness of global pandemics as an existential risk, also threatens our innate need or want to move, whether in search of safety, study, work or leisure.
The Managing and Protecting People on the Move stream provides a central meeting point for the socio-legal scholarly community to discuss and debate the innumerable legal, political and sociological challenges associated with migration. We invite papers from those versed in migration law, migration studies, refugee and forced migration studies, international and regional law, domestic law, and comparative legal scholarship, who approach the subject area from a socio-legal, doctrinal, comparative, theoretical or empirical angle. We welcome contributions from early career researchers and doctoral students, as well as established scholars and practitioners.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Mental Health and Mental Disability Law
It’s not news that COVID19 has monopolised discussion in the last year, and its affect in mental health and mental disability law will no doubt be of interest to some contributors to this stream – fair enough! We should also remember, though, that COVID is not the only game in town. Legislative amendments for England and Wales are expected imminently, and the new Liberty Protection Safeguards will presumably be implemented soon. In Scotland, the Scott Review of mental health law continues its work. At the international level, it is increasingly clear that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is changing what is expected of mental health and mental capacity law.
While these legal developments provide a particularly apt occasion for the stream, papers from all areas of the law relating to mental health, mental capacity and mental disability are welcome, including:
- Civil, criminal or informal mechanisms of control, in hospital or in the community
- Supported decision-making and supported accommodation
- The law relating to disability and welfare benefits, and issues relating to care and programmes in the community;
- Issues relating to discrimination on the basis of mental disability (be it mental health issues, psychosocial disabilities, or learning disabilities)
- International law relating to people with mental disabilities;
- The role of administration or care-givers in the provision of services;
- The role or experience of service users in mental health care, and research into mental health care.
There is no restriction on methodology: papers may be empirical, policy-centred, historical, analytic, traditional legal, or theoretical, in approach.
Property, People, Power and Place
The title of this stream encompasses the disparate tensions, inter-relationships and potential conflicts when constructing meanings of property. It recognises that these constructs are contingent and contextual and shaped by people, power and place.
Papers are welcomed which address any context in which the law seeks to define, regulate, limit or conceptualise relationships to property. Papers which explore the concepts of space, place and inclusivity are also welcome, and the opportunity for social groups and communities to be engaged in those discourses. It is anticipated that papers may focus on the following, as examples:
- The emergence of new forms of land ownership, regulation, or planning systems
- The boundaries between public and private property relationships
- Technology, design and/or environmental changes and the impact on space/place regulation
- The relationship of property to individual or collective identity
- Potential tensions between different stakeholder groups in property discourses
- Contributions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries are particularly welcome.
Sentencing and Punishment
This stream aims to stimulate debate about all aspects of Penology. Topics discussed at recent conferences illustrate the breadth of the stream: the genesis of popular (mis)perceptions about sentencing; analysing the impact of Sentencing Council guidelines; assessing the relevance of equality in determining proportionate penalties; and locating the roots of the current prison crisis. Papers about sentencing and punishment in jurisdictions other than England and Wales are always very welcome.
Our overarching aim as convenors is to provide an opportunity for participants to receive meaningful feedback in a friendly and supportive environment. Many papers which were first delivered in this stream have subsequently been published in leading peer-reviewed journals in Law and Criminology. The discussions have also given rise to research collaboration.
We very much hope that you will participate in what has always been a varied, thought-provoking and enjoyable stream.
Sexual Offences and Offending
The challenges posed by sexual offences and offending are inherently complex. This stream examines legal, social and policy responses to victim-survivors and offenders in the context of a wide range of sexual offences, behaviours and exploitation. This stream welcomes contributions which consider any aspect of sexual offences or offending, including:
Child sexual offences; trafficking for sexual purposes; grooming; social media and sexual offending; sex workers and the law; police, court, prosecutorial and jury responses to sexual offences; the idea of ‘justice’ in the context of sexual offences; law reform; extreme sexual imagery; education and prevention; social attitudes to sexual offences and offending; policy issues; restorative justice approaches; comparative analysis, offender treatment; the legal and criminal justice response to indecent images of children; defining sexual offences; and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on sexual offences cases.
Social Rights, Citizenship and the Welfare State
Changes in welfare states internationally have brought about upheaval in the social rights of citizenship and have fuelled debate on the nature and enforcement of social rights in international law. These upheavals in welfare states have taken place against a background of austerity, rising inequality and debates about devolution, migration and citizenship. Meanwhile, activists and social movements of those most affected challenge us to understand what it means to be on the receiving end of these changes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has set these pre-existing issues into even sharper relief. As Emily Maitlis observed, “this is a health issue with huge ramifications for social welfare, and it’s a welfare issue with huge ramifications for public health.” How have governments responded to the pandemic in relation to social rights? How have grass roots organisations reacted? As the economic fallout continues, will policy makers heed the lessons of a decade of austerity scholarship? Can this crisis stimulate debates about a new future for social rights, citizenship and the welfare state?
This stream seeks to explore all these issues and more, bringing papers together which address these problems from different perspectives. Submissions to the stream may approach aspects of Social Rights, Citizenship and the Welfare State from a range of standpoints, including (but not limited to):
- Substantive legal problems in the judicial recognition of social rights and arguments about the role of the courts to determine and uphold them.
- Theoretical issues on the uncertain status of social rights and social welfare, including material on the welfare state, conditionality, social justice, or the impact and meaning of ‘austerity’.
- Comparative or supranational focused papers on social citizenship, welfare state typologies, or the effects of devolution and localism.
The stream convenors would particularly welcome submissions from practitioners or those engaged in the issues above (such as those working in welfare rights advice). If you have any questions about the scope of the stream or would like to discuss a possible contribution, please contact the stream convenors using the details below.
This stream provides a forum for those with an interest in socio-legal theory to engage in a critical and lively conversation with a view to continuing the development of theoretical discourse in socio-legal studies. We are particularly interested in papers which consider the place of theory in socio-legal studies, the role it can play in developing our understanding of socio-legal issues, and the relationship between the jurisprudential and empirical aspects of the socio-legal community. Papers from those interested in any of the variety of theoretical approaches to socio-legal studies are welcomed, including, but not limited to post-structuralist, feminist, post-colonial, systems and actor-network theory. Proposals from both legal and non-legal scholars speaking in favour of, or against, the utility of given theoretical approaches to socio-legal studies are encouraged. Similarly, papers introducing novel combinations of theoretical perspectives and those wanting to discuss their application of theory to their empirical research are also welcomed. Panel proposals may be submitted. individual papers will be grouped, as much as possible, according to topic and discipline.
Socio-legal Trajectories: Webs of Relationships
The socio-legal climate is constantly evolving. Changes are driven by pressing social demands and legal developments, as well as by means of insights borne out of new empirical and theoretical puzzles and new investigative spaces. Within this fertile and ever-changing research field, we are interested in how socio-legal and non-doctrinal scholars think about their own place and role within this landscape: how do scholars conceptualise this field, and their situation and connectedness within it? How has socio-legal studies shaped areas of research, careers, institutions, disciplines, and teaching in countries across the world?
We invite papers that reflect upon what socio-legal studies is in different settings, countries and cultures. We are interested in papers that take a comparative perspective, but single-case studies are also welcome. Our aim is to bring together historical, institutional, and cultural perspectives on socio-legal studies, and to identify those elements that combine to make contemporary socio-legal studies. The following overarching themes might be useful to consider for your submission:
- Academic and legal cultures: different trajectories/pathways into socio-legal / law and society / criminological / non-doctrinal / interdisciplinary research.
- Scholarly kinship: connections and patterns of law and society scholarship (education/training/mobility/language competence/supervision/relationships).
- Historical significance: changes over time in institutional structures, political climate, funding, REF, themes/topics studied, things that have been forgotten.
- Autoethnography and environment: Is there a perfect set-up for socio-legal studies to thrive (in opposition, or on its own terms)? What is our (personal) role in the larger field of socio-legal studies?
The Digital Turn in Socio-legal Studies
Socio-legal studies has – since its inception in the late 1950/mid-1960s to date – been a vital source for our contextual understanding of law in/and society. In following the main currents of societal life, socio-legal studies have considered a diverse range of encounters between law, legal institutions, legal actors, and their social contexts. More recently, a digital turn in socio-legal studies can be observed; the progressive integration of advanced digital technologies in all aspects of our daily lives, the digitisation of law and legal practice, and even the adoption of digital research methods in our socio-legal repertoire, have broadened horizons and unlocked new possibilities for the socio-legal endeavour. Individual paper submissions, as well as proposals for complete panels consisting of no more than three papers, are invited for this current topic at the upcoming annual conference of the Socio-Legal Studies Association, hosted by the University of York from 6 to 8 April 2022. PhD students, early career researchers, as well as senior scholars are welcome.
Paper (and panel) submissions should take the conversation beyond the descriptive and the salient, and explore the impact of the digital turn as a conceptual revolution for the sociology of law. The focus is on how the current and ongoing digital turn has fundamentally transformed the study of law and society and law in society. Papers and panels may, for example, consider the extent to which digital architecture informs or “codes” conduct in the legal and societal sphere, how digital platforms create new or alternative realities that increase the plurality and diversity of norms in law and society, or how the pluralisation of communicative possibilities through digitised means, facilitates new avenues for dialogue, and also conflict, whether that is at the interpersonal, inter-state, or intra-state level. In decoding the digital turn in socio-legal studies, the papers of this current topic will ultimately reveal and critically consider the new legal conceptions and societal cognitions that have emerged, and that will continue to inform the socio-legal scholarship of the future.
Convenor contact: [email protected]
Transnational Organized Crime
We invite applicants to submit their high-quality papers for the Transnational and Organized Crime stream.
Transnational organized crime is a socio-political construct that emerged on government agendas in the 1990s and has since become established as a national security and international security ‘threat’. Activities associated with transnational organized crime are many and varied but primarily consist of various types of smuggling – drugs and people being the most reported types of contraband. This is also true of the perpetrators - organized criminals are also many and varied. They can be producers, refiners, distributors, importers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers, pushers, financiers and enforcers who often have ‘upper world’ allies such as corrupt police officers, politicians, customs officials, judges or bankers. Transnational criminal activities continue to evolve and respond to opportunities resulting from globalisation and technological advances. Local, regional, national and international law enforcement efforts are therefore continuously challenged.
An Interdisciplinary Workshop:
The stream aims to bring together a wide range of academics from various disciplines including law, history, criminology, politics and sociology to discuss transnational organized crime in a holistic manner.
We welcome submissions from all areas of academic research. The flexibility of this stream means that we can enhance and develop engaging, critical and stimulating dialogue on the topic.
We welcome papers from those who are researching organized crime issues where the activity remains a national problem, for example county lines drug trafficking.
The overriding aim of the stream is to explore the concepts and trends which characterise transnational organized crime. We expect papers that raise clear and crisp socio-legal questions concerning transnational organized crime and offer concrete, innovative solutions to the problems.
Submissions will be peer reviewed by the stream convenors. The successful authors of the selected papers will then be contacted and invited to present at the conference.
Uncovering Silenced Voices: A Socio-Legal Approach
The issue of representation is currently widely debated as is the need to give a voice to groups that have been historically silenced. This stream seeks to open up a debate about what role social sciences and specifically socio-legal approach plays in uncovering these silent voices. We are specifically interested in papers that study the presence or absence of these silenced groups – eg women, BAME and other - in or before decision-making bodies, such as courts and tribunals, and other fora. Our aim is to understand how the social-legal approach can help identify groups and communities and the contexts in which these have been silenced; and to understand how such research can examine what contribution those silenced voices (could) bring to the content of the law and the shape of institutions in which they sit or before which they appear.
Papers could, for example, discuss the absence/presence of women, BAME or other minorities in/before courts and tribunals or other decision-making fora. These could be methodological papers about how one uncovers who is silenced, about where to gather data and information and how to analyse that data, or paper about how one studies ‘absence’ or ‘silence’ in light of missing data. We are also interested in papers that compare how people of different backgrounds reason and how different experiences inform their worldview. Such papers could tackle the issue of how silenced voices can contribute to a different content of the law or different shape of institutions.
Papers in all areas of law are welcome. We are particularly interested in papers using quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as comparative papers.
Convenor contact: [email protected] and