Ewch i’r prif gynnwys

Centre of Law and Society

We encourage and provide an institutional framework for the support of socio-legal, sociological, theoretical and interdisciplinary research and education.

We encourage and provide an institutional framework for the support of socio-legal, sociological, theoretical and interdisciplinary research and education.

Closely linked to the Journal of Law and Society and its activities, we aim to enable and raise the profile of high quality socio-legal scholarship and education at Cardiff University.

We will promote and encourage innovative research of international quality focusing on socio-legal, empirical and theoretical analysis of legal institutions and processes and the impact of social, political, economic and scientific influences on law, legal professions and legal activities. It will specifically promote sociological and socio-legal methodology including empirical research methods in legal science.

We maintain strong connections with other schools and faculties within the Cardiff University, with other universities and similar research centres in the United Kingdom and internationally.


Our mission is to build on existing research and cooperate with other Centres within the School in particular to address themes in the fields of:

  • sociology and social theory of law
  • legal cultures
  • legal anthropology
  • legal education
  • legal professions and ethics
  • comparative sociology of criminal justice
  • family law
  • law and religion
  • law and medicine
  • law and environment
  • law and business regulation
  • socio-legal studies of EU integration.


We stimulate and coordinate research collaboration and specific projects within the School of Law and Politics.

The academic environment we provide enables staff and PhD students from departments, Schools and research centres around the University, as well as visiting scholars and fellows, to meet and discuss their views and ideas, present research projects and outcomes, and deliver lectures and seminars.

Additionally, we promote a wide range of activities and research programmes supporting the exchange and development of ideas, through conferences, symposia, seminars, research methods seminars, reading groups and working paper electronic publications, between academics, practitioners and others.

We maintain an electronic archive and online profile of socio-legal activities, information and study materials, seminars and conversations with sociologists of law and socio-legal scholars is maintained by our staff

Research streams

Justice in a Time of Austerity

One of our current Research Streams is Justice in a Time of Austerity, a project about peoples' experiences of the civil justice system after the 2012 legal aid cuts - and we want your stories. If you have a story to tell about your experiences with the civil justice system, please get in touch with Dr Daniel Newman.

Agri-Sustainability Workshop

Dr Ludivine Petetin has published a report on our agri-sustainability workshop, as well as an article for the Environmental Law Review on the subject.


  • Aydin Atilgan
  • Elaine Freer
  • Elena Caruso
  • Berfin Osso
  • Dawid Bunikowski
  • Lukas Cervinka
  • Kasia Krzyzanowska
  • Greg Martin
  • Petr Agha


Upcoming events

Past events

Dissenting Voices: European thought between tradition and rupture

Webinar #3: Looking for alternatives

Friday 12 March 2021, 11:00 (12:00 Rome, Central European Standard Time).

Join the event

Full programme

  • 12:00-12:05  Opening by Jiří Přibáň
  • 12:05-12:35  Marija Bartl (Amsterdam), Imaginaries of Progress as Constitutional Imaginaries
  • 12:35-13:05 Discussion led by Agustín Menéndez

This presentation explores two questions: what constitutional imaginaries are, that is, what is that they express, and where should we look for them.

Are they part of constitutional texts? For instance, were they a part of the 2004 proposal for a Constitutional Treaty, which as the ‘last utopia’ features prominently in the introduction to this volume?1 Or were they instead to be found in the governmental practices that followed the demise of the Constitutional Treaty? What to make in this context of critiques, such as that of Hans Micklitz, who suggests that while the Constitutional Treaty invokes well-rehearsed statist imaginaries, it fails to engage with the problems state constitutions tried to solve, such as fostering solidarity – and thus was preordained to failure?

  • 13:05-13:35 Paul Blokker (Bologna), Populism, Constituent Power and Constitutional Imagination
  • 13:35-14:05 Discussion led by John Erik Fossum

In this presentation, I will first discuss the phenomenon of populist constitutionalism as a reaction to the post-WWII hegemonic model of anti-totalitarian liberal constitutionalism as well as global legalism. Subsequently I will explore the relationship between populism and constituent power, to, in the final part, discuss the populist imaginary and mindset as a negation of liberal legalism, and the populist pretension of an alternative legal mindset, grounded in the constituent power of the people.

  • 14:05-14:15 Short Break
  • 14:15-14:45 Domenico Siciliano (Firenze), «Wem von Ihnen haette das Gewissen geschlagen, wenn sie gewonnen haetten?» (Hannah Arendt): Rudolf Wiethoelter and the Post-Second World War German Law
  • 14:45-15:15 Discussion led by Christian Joerges

The name, Rudolf Wiethölter, who was born in Solingen in 1929, has been gradually forgotten over the last thirty years in legal science. There are several reasons for this: firstly, Wiethölter is a man who tends to avoid the main international conferences and "global arenas", as well as academic dinners. Moreover, Wiethölter is unique in that he rarely leaves Frankfurt am Main. However, the most important reason consists of the following: Wiethölter wanted to share the fate of the 1968 Movement. The failure of this movement, which Wiethölter was confronted with and engaged in when he was a university professor in Frankfurt also represents the ‘failure’, of Rudolf Wiethölter. Wiethölter has therefore been unjustly forgotten or, at best, has received "little consideration". He has had a similar function for legal science, or rather for critical jurisprudence, to what his "travel companion", Jürgen Habermas has had for philosophy and the social sciences. Since the 1970s, Wiethölter has significantly stimulated the debate on German, and also European and international, legal theory in his Frankfurter Seminar, as well as in a series of very important articles. In the 1970s, Wiethölter's works found a widespread resonance, particularly within the discussion of legal theory and civil law thanks to the Italian translation of his Funk-Kolleg book, “Rechtswissenschaft”, which was published 1968 and has since "become legendary". Almost all of Wiethölter’s important texts must be understood in their connection between the theory and practice of law. Wiethölter, who in 2013 celebrated his 100th teaching semester in Frankfurt am Main – did not consider himself a "Jurist", let alone a "Rechtswissenschaftler", a "law scientist", but rather a "Rechts-Lehrer", a "law teacher" or a "Recht-Fertigungslehrer", a "teacher of the justification-of-the-law".

The series of webinars “Dissenting voices” is organised jointly by Christian Joerges, Michelle Everson, John Erik Fossum, Jiří Přibáň and Agustín José Menéndez .

Centre of Law and Society Annual Public Lecture, Thursday 10 December 2020 at 14:00

Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University: "The Future of Autocratic Legalism"

Around the world, democratic citizenries are electing leaders who proceed to dismantle previously existing constitutional constraints on the power of the executive. From Hungary and Poland, to Venezuela and Ecuador, to Turkey and Russia, and even in the United States, democratically elected leaders are eschewing checks and balances and rejecting independent judiciaries, media and civil society. These new autocratic leaders appear wildly popular and are often re-elected. Why have democratically elected leaders with autocratic aspirations appeared across such a wide array of democratic governments at once? How have they undermined constitutional government and yet claimed democratic legitimacy? And, most crucially, what can be done to restore the promise of constitutionalism?

Professor Kim Lane Scheppele is Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values. Her work focuses on the intersection of constitutional and international law, particularly in constitutional systems under stress.

After 1989, Scheppele studied the emergence of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia, living in both places for extended periods. After 9/11, she researched the effects of the international "war on terror" on constitutional protections around the world. Since 2010, she has been documenting the rise of autocratic legalism first in Hungary and then in Poland within the European Union, as well as its spread around the world. Her many publications in law reviews, in social science journals and in many languages cover these topics and others.

Scheppele is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Academy of Comparative Law. In 2014, she received the Law and Society Association’s Kalven Prize for influential scholarship. She held tenure in the in the political science department at the University of Michigan, taught full-time in the law school at the University of Pennsylvania, was the founding director of the gender program at Central European University Budapest, directed the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton for a decade, and has held visiting faculty positions in the law schools at Michigan, Yale, Harvard, Erasmus/Rotterdam, and Humboldt/Berlin.

She is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Constitutional Law, elected as a “global jurist.” From 2017-2019, she was the elected President of the Law and Society Association.

Watch the lecture

Law and the Utopian Challenge, Friday 14 June 2019

International Conference, the Centre of Law and Society

Room 1.28, Law Building, School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University

Cardiff Centre of Law and Society Annual Conference: Wars on law, wars through law? Reflections on the “past of the present” of the “War on terror”

Tuesday 30 April 2019 - Wednesday 1 May 2019

Room 1.28, School of Law and Politics, Law Building, Cardiff University

Find out more about the annual conference 2019.

Anthropocene Seminar – Professor Teresa Dillon, 'Dancing with the Dog: Interspecies Cadence and Urban Life'

Wednesday 13 February 2019
Rooms 2.30 and 2.30A, School of Law and Politics, Law Building, Cardiff University

Please register your attendance by Wednesday 6 February.

Centre for Law and Society Annual Public Lecture: 'The Democratic Courthouse' with Guest Speaker Dr Linda Mulcahy

Thursday 15 November 2018
Room 1.30, School of Law and Politics, Law Building,Cardiff University

17:15: Welcome Reception
18:00: The Democratic Courthouse, with Guest Speaker Dr Linda Mulcahy
19:30: Close of Public Lecture

School of Law and Politics Speaker Series 2018/19 - Imagining the Eco-Social: New Materialist Reflections for the Anthropocene

This exciting speaker series is co-organised by the CLS and the Environmental Justice Research Unit (EJRU). Find out more about this series from a blog post by the Environmental Justice Research Unit.

'Opening Event: Encountering the Entangled World’

19 September 2018
Law Building, Room 2.29 and 2.29a.

Please register your attendance.

This event is the opening event for the series. There will be two papers (details below) and a chance for in-depth discussion and engagement with the themes of the papers and the series as a whole.


09.30: ‘Introduction to the Speaker Series’, Anna Grear, Professor of Law and Theory, Cardiff Law and Politics School

09.45: ‘Can Property be Justified in an Entangled World?’ Margaret Davies, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Law, Flinders University, Australia

For some decades property theory has emphasised questions about the nature of property, and focused upon redefining it in such a way as to rebalance it toward responsibilities, or to find ways of strengthening common and public interests rather than individual rights. The issue of whether property can be justified at all—once a staple of moral and political theory—has been submerged in this necessary but limited emphasis on redefinition. However the basis for liberal property theory, the presocial individual and its differentiation from a world of objects, is utterly dissolved in posthumanism. Private property is, moreover, at the centre of global ecocide. For these reasons (and many others), the question of the ethical foundations for property can no longer be ignored. Is property justifiable at all, and if so in what form, in an entangled world? What does the codependence and indeed interchangeability of subjects and objects mean for the future of property?

10.30: ‘A Hyena’s Laugh: Sand, Suspension, and Urban Form’ Dr Julian Brigstoke, Lecturer in Human Geography, Cardiff University, UK

This paper critically engages with new materialist debates through a consideration of an everyday material: sand. Sand is a vital material of power. Its force emerges from its granularity, its roughness, its consistency and absorbency. This enables it easily to form suspensions in water and air. Sahara sand keeps the Amazon alive. Sand transgresses borders and thresholds. It connects the elemental to the global, and the distant past to the present. Sand’s power is ghoulish: shifting form, moving boundaries, deceiving travellers. It has a hyena’s laugh. It marks time, decay, and death. Yet when taking forms such as concrete, asphalt, and glass, sand is also the most important material of the world’s urban landscapes. There is a global shortage of construction sand, and the geopolitics of sand mining and land reclamation is becoming increasingly contentious. This paper argues that thinking the geopolitics and geopoetics of sand requires questioning the granular materiality and non-human temporalities of cities, urban form, and the flows of matter across water, land and air.

The Sexual Contract: 30 Years On

10 - 11 May 2018

The Law and Gender research group at the School of Law and Politics in conjunction with the Feminist Legal Studies Journal is to host a major conference on 10 to 11 May 2018. The conference will mark 30 years since the publication of Carole Pateman’s seminal work The Sexual Contract (Stanford University Press 1988).

Carole Pateman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), will open the conference by speaking about her work. The event will involve presentations by a number of academics from a range of academic disciplines exploring how Pateman’s work has inspired their scholarship.

The conference aims to stimulate discussion of how Pateman’s critique of the orthodox social contract continues to have significance and relevance for a diverse range of themes, such as the marriage contract, the employment contract, the prostitution contract, the surrogacy contract, the settler contract and ‘new’ contracts inspired by but not appearing in Pateman’s work (including the welfare contract; the ‘justice’ contract, exploring access to justice issues; feminism and the environmental contract; debt as sexual contract).

A call for papers has now been launched. Papers are encouraged from contributors of any career level. If you are interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit a title and abstract of 250 words to one of the organisers: Dr Sharon Thompson, Dr Lydia Hayes or Dr Dan Newman.

The deadline for receipt of abstracts has been extended to 1 March 2018. Those whose papers are accepted should prepare a presentation of 20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

Further details about the event will be published in due course. It is supported by the Centre of Law and Society as this years’ key annual event.

CLS Seminar: Investment Law and Arbitration as a Window into the Role of Contact in Global Economic Law and Governance

4 December 2017

Over the past two decades, scholars from a variety of disciplines and traditions have been exploring the ways in which contract – as a norm, discourse, and set of institutions – has come to play a central role in the governance of global political economic relationships.

In this presentation, Edward S Cohen employs an approach to contract rooted in the traditions of American legal realism to shed light on the rapidly expanding field of international investment law and investor-state arbitration. He will argue that the relationships between states and corporate investors has been increasingly shaped by hybrid legal regime in which norms and practices of private contract law have been deeply insinuated into the law that governs the appropriate scope and objects of public power. The result is a regime of international law disproportionally responsive to the purposes and power of private agents. Edward S Cohen concludes by considering the potential and limits of emerging attempts to reform this regime.

For further information please contact Sara Dezalay at dezalays@cardiff.ac.uk

Towards Smarter Sentencing and Penal Policy: What Could and Should a Progressive Wales and England Do?
27 November 2017

Professor Cyrus Tata (University of Strathclyde), a leading scholar of penal decision-making, will be giving a lecture at Cardiff Law School on Monday 27th November. Organised by the Cardiff Centre of Law and Society, Professor Tata’s talk is entitled ‘Towards Smarter Sentencing and Penal Policy: What Could and Should a Progressive Wales and England Do?’ and focuses on sentencing policy, the overuse of custody and what we can do about it.

There will be an informal reception from 5.30pm with the lecture and QandA session starting at 6.30pm.

Booking: Entry is free, but please reserve your place in advance here.

Societal Constitutions in Transnational Regimes
30 June - 1 July 2017

This two day event is hosted by the Centre of Law and Society as part of its Summer 2017 programme of research events at Cardiff School of Law and Politics. Drawing on the current political climate as well as the historical development of constitutionalism, this conference features a plethora of speakers including Gunther Teubner (Frankfurt), Chris Thornhill (Manchester), Gert Verschraegen (Antwerp) and Fatima Kästner (University of Bonn).

Exploring the Consequences of Research: Second Socio-Legal Residential Masterclass, Gregynog
19 June 2017

This three day retreat for PhD students working in the field of socio-legal studies will examine the responsibilities of scholars to produce something other than outputs that will allow personal progression. In a series of sessions with leading socio-legal scholars, participants will examine the responsibilities owed to our wider communities.  More specifically, participants will interrogate the political choices that scholars make in their choice of project, methodology and theoretical frame and how they deal with the many consequences of their research.

Book Launch: 'Towards a Rhetoric of Medical Law' by Professor John Harrington
6 June 2017

The Centre of Law and Society is proud to be hosting the launch of Professor John Harrington's book 'Towards a Rhetoric of Medical Law', shortlisted for the 2017 SLSA Legal Theory Book Prize. Chaired by Professor Jiri Priban, the event includes discussions by  Professor Martin Kayman (Cardiff), Gary Watt (Warwick), and Professor Marie-Andrée Jacob (Keele).

CCLJ and CLS Joint Workshop: Best practice in security and justice
5-16 May 2017

This two day workshop encourages attendees to further their understanding of the challenges of learning cross-culturally in relation to security and justice by examining whether – and if so how – one can usefully and validly define transnational ‘good practice.’

Public Lecture: “Through the looking glass: bespoke(?)  Brexit solutions"
8 March 2017

Professor Carl Baudenbacher, President of the EFTA Court, will explore whether the EEA model, or a bespoke variation of it, would be a suitable way forward for the UK after Brexit.

Public Lecture: The Legitimacy of Global Social Indicators
9 November 2016

Professor David Nelken will examine the legitimacy of Global Social Indicators that purport to rank comparatively matters as different as respect for the rule of law, corporate responsibility, financial trustworthiness- and the relative quality of universities!

Postgraduate Research Seminar: Comparative Legal Research and Legal Culture: Facts, Approaches and Values
7 November 2016

Professor David Nelken asks whether legal culture is a useful term to use in carrying out comparative legal research

Summer Seminar with Martha Fineman: Vulnerability, Austerity and Justice
14 July 2016

Professor Martha Fineman was the key note speaker at the finale event of our 2016 gender rules research series organised by the Gender Rules Research Group and the Centre for Law and Society.

Martha Fineman – Austerity, Vulnerability and Justice events
6 July 2016

Professor Martha Fineman explains her vulnerability theory and applys it to the notion of austerity, which pits the universal vulnerability of individual human beings against the apparent vulnerability of institutions of the state.

Gender Rules: Research Methods in Law – Dr Sharon Thompson, Dr Lydia Hayes and Dr Dan Newman
10 June 2016

The Centre of Law and Society funded a research series titled ‘Gender Rules’, supporting the emergence of a new research group on Law and Gender in Cardiff Law School.

Conversation series

A showcase of our ongoing socio-legal conversation series.

CLS Annual Lecture 2022-23 with Roger Cotterrell


CLS Annual Lecture 2021-22 with Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck

Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck

In conversation with Professor Kim Lane Scheppele and Professor Jiří Přibáň

Kim Lane Scheppele and Jiří Přibáň

In conversation with Professor Sharyn Roach Anleu and Dr Rachel Cahill-O'Callaghan

Sharyn Roach Anleu and Rachel Cahill-O'Callaghan

In conversation with Professor Linda Mulcahy and Professor Ben Pontin

Linda Mulcahy

In conversation with Professor Mavis Maclean and Professor Gillian Douglas

Mavis Maclean and Professor Gillian Douglas

CLS Summer Seminar 2016 led by Professor Martha A. Fineman: ‘Austerity, Vulnerability and Justice’.

Martha Fineman

In conversation with Professor Upendra Baxi and Professor John Harrington.

Upendra Baxi and John Harrington

In conversation with Professor Roger Cotterrell and Professor Jiří Přibáň

Roger Cotterrell and Jiří Přibáň

In conversation with founding editor of the Journal of Law and Society and Emeritus Professor Phil Thomas and Professor Jiří Přibáň.

Phil Thomas and Jiří Přibáň

In conversation with Professor David Sugarman and Professor Dr Christos Boukalas

David Sugarman and Christos Boukalas

In conversation with Professor Gunther Teubner and Professor Jiří Přibáň.

Gunther Teubner and Jiří Přibáň


CSL Annual Report

This is the report for 2020/21, which was another exceptional academic year in which the Centre of Law and Society (CLS) had to adjust its programme to the continuing global covid-19 pandemic.

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