The empirical sociology of law in the context of interdisciplinary synthesis

Volkov V.V.

Dr. Sci. (Soc.), PhD, Prof., Academic Director, Institute for the Rule of Law, the European University at Saint- Petersburg, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

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Volkov V.V. The empirical sociology of law in the context of interdisciplinary synthesis. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 4. P. 34-42


The article reviews the empirical turn in the sociology of law in the context of its interaction with other disciplines, such as jurisprudence, criminology, economics as well as the development of empirical-legal studies. Having incorporated critical questions and frameworks of the sociological classics, the contemporary sociology of law has moved away from the rigid sociological type of explanation to a more analytical and case-specific kind of analysis. The sociological way of posing research questions is always present albeit implicitly in sentencing research, organizational studies of justice, studies of the legal profession, and research of legal pluralism. The unifying features of the new interdisciplinary field are the reliance upon empirical data and the treatment of law as behavioral phenomenon. The article also reviews the recent developments in empirical-legal studies in Russia and in other countries where scholars managed to obtain access to large datasets of law enforcement and court statistics. One of the main arguments is that the sociology of law managed to avoid the crisis of sociology caused by its isolation and weak policy impact. Today the empirical-legal studies can be regarded as an example of successful public sociology that interacts with several professional audiences and productively works with new types of data. Several examples of policy relevant scholarly research are given to support this proposition.

the sociology of law; empirical-legal studies; public sociology


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Content No 4, 2017