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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

Periodically we invite proposals from our members and distinguished external scholars for a series of research activities (such as conferences, workshops, symposia and seminars) that will run for a particular time period (for example a year) built around a particular research theme.

Access the latest issue of the Journal of Law and Society.

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.

Centre Director

Professor Jiri Priban

Professor Jiri Priban

Professor of Law

+44 (0)29 2087 6819

Academic staff

Professor Stewart Field

Professor Stewart Field

Professor of Law and Head of Law

+44(0)29 2087 4363
Professor Ambreena Manji

Professor Ambreena Manji

Professor of Law

+44(0)29 2087 5473
Dr Rachel Cahill-O'Callaghan

Dr Rachel Cahill-O'Callaghan

Senior Lecturer in Law

+44(0)29 2087 4479
Dr Sara Dezalay

Dr Sara Dezalay

Senior Lecturer in International Relations

+44 (0)29 2087 4984
Professor Kenneth Dyson

Professor Kenneth Dyson

Professor of Politics

+44(0)29 2087 5636
Professor Anna Grear

Professor Anna Grear

Professor of Law

+44(0)29 2087 5467
Professor John Harrington

Professor John Harrington

Professor of Law

+44(0)29 2087 4098
Professor Jo Hunt

Professor Jo Hunt

Professor in Law

+44(0)29 2087 5186
Dr Wendy Kennett

Dr Wendy Kennett

Senior Lecturer in Law

+44(0)29 2087 5482
Professor Richard Lewis

Professor Richard Lewis

Professor of Law

+44(0)29 2087 4341
Professor Annette Morris

Professor Annette Morris

Professor in Law

+44(0)29 2087 4580
Dr Daniel Newman

Dr Daniel Newman

Senior Lecturer in Law

+44 (0)29 2087 4049
Dr Bernadette Rainey

Dr Bernadette Rainey

Senior Lecturer in Law and Director of Equality, Dignity and Inclusion

+44(0)29 2087 5365
Dr Lucy Series

Dr Lucy Series


+44(0)29 2087 4238

Upcoming Events

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

0900Welcome and introduction

Session one: Ideology, Utopia and the Rule of Law

  • Ideology or Utopia? - Lynne Copson - Open University
  • The Rule of Law: Between Utopia and Ideology - Bart Van Klink - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Session two: Temporality and Eternity of Utopias

  • Temporality of Utopias - Stephen Kirste - Universitat Salzburg
  • The Utopian Quest for Order, Justice, Peace and the Eternal Challenge of the Unjust Past - Wouter Veraat, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
1050-1210Refreshment break

Session three: Utopia, Global Society and Law

  • Utopia's of Global Law: 'Complete Symmetric Inclusion' or 'Law of Pirates and Partisans' - Poul Kjaer - Copenhagan Business School
  • A Study in Contrast: Utopian Impulses in Contemporary Legal Orders - Neil Walker - University of Edinburgh
1330-1430Lunch break

Session four: Law and Dystopia

  • The Power of Dystopia: Dimensions of Modernization and Law - Lyana Francot - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Dystopian Voices: Silent Claims and the Legal Imagination of Inhumanity - Luigi Corrias - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
1550-1610Refreshment reak

Session five: Law, Ethics and Utopia

  • A Secular Form of Grace: The Role of Utopia in Ethics and Socio-Legal Theory - Leon Van Den Broeke - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Utopia of Legality, Dystopia of Morality: On the Value of Law and its Authority - Jiří Přibáň - Cardiff University

Session six: Law and Pleasure in Utopia

  • Anywhere out of the World: Law, Limits, and the Pleasure Problem in Utopian Thought - Nomi Claire Lazar - Yale-NUS College
1930Dinner (By Invitation Only)

Past events

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 6th 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

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.

A showcase of our ongoing socio-legal conversation series.

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, Vulnerabiltiy 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

We invite early career scholars and emerging researchers to apply for the CLS research visitor fellowships in the academic year 2018/19.