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Socio-legal Studies — Overview

Research on law in society is carried out at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. Together with the Professor, one Associate Professor in Socio-Legal Studies and one Associate Professor in Law and Regulation, there are around ten post-doctoral fellows carrying out both empirical and theoretical research into the place and role of law in society. The approach is multi-disciplinary and the researchers come from a wide variety of scholary backgrounds. The research streams, forthcoming events, list of staff and publications can be found on the Centre's web-site.

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For more detailed information about our work in this area, see also the dedicated Centre for Socio-Legal Studies website

This theme contains three subjects, namely: Law in Society, Media Law and Regulation


Law in Society

Discussion Groups

These self-sustaining groups are an essential part of the life of our graduate school. They are organised in some cases by graduate students and in others by Faculty members and meet regularly during term, typically over a sandwich lunch, when one of the group presents work in progress or introduces a discussion of a particular issue or new case. They may also encompass guest speakers from the faculty and beyond.

Oxford Privacy Information Law and Society

Courses

The courses we offer in this field are:

Postgraduate

BCL

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from common-law backgrounds

Law in Society

Considering law in society means asking a number of questions: What does law do? Where does it come from? What forms does it take? How do we understand its meaning and significance? Socio-legal scholars discuss the role of law in providing stability to private relations, law as the foundation of social order, and law as an instrument for directing society and solving social issues. They also investigate the social origins of different laws. Anthropologists may be more interested in the forms that law takes, and matters of meaning and symbolism. Asking these questions ultimately leads scholars to address the issue (whether explicitly or implicitly) of what law is. Using empirical studies as the basis for such enquiries is what largely distinguishes these projects from those of legal philosophers.

The first part of the course (4 weeks in MT) introduces some of the main sociological thinkers to have addressed these questions, including Durkheim (the notion of law as a mirror of social life and the basis of social solidarity), Weber (law as an instrument of the ruler), and Ehrlich (living law). We will use case studies, along with the writings of more recent scholars, such as Roberts, Cotterrell, and Galligan, to assess the relevance of their approaches for contemporary scholarship and social issues.

The second part of the course (8 weeks in HT) uses anthropological and historical case studies to address the same questions. The focus is largely on understanding the different systems of law found in other societies and historical periods. How are we to understand the laws and legal processes of non-literate societies, for example, or the codes of medieval European kings, or the feuding relations of contemporary Tibetan pastoralists? What do they mean and do, and where do they come from? On what grounds can we even define them as law? We do not, however, neglect contemporary studies from the western world, also considering studies of court use, the appeal of human rights, and new forms of transnational law. The diversity of such examples challenges us to ask what unites them as examples of law. Asking about what is unfamiliar causes us to reflect on the parameters and cultural specificity of our own concepts of law and students will be encouraged to think constructively and critically about familiar legal phenomena and their universal application.

The course is convened by Dr Fernanda Pirie of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. There are 4 seminars in Michaelmas term (odd weeks) and 8 in Hilary term (weekly).

Assessment is by a three hour written examination.

MJur

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from civil law backgrounds.

Law in Society

Considering law in society means asking a number of questions: What does law do? Where does it come from? What forms does it take? How do we understand its meaning and significance? Socio-legal scholars discuss the role of law in providing stability to private relations, law as the foundation of social order, and law as an instrument for directing society and solving social issues. They also investigate the social origins of different laws. Anthropologists may be more interested in the forms that law takes, and matters of meaning and symbolism. Asking these questions ultimately leads scholars to address the issue (whether explicitly or implicitly) of what law is. Using empirical studies as the basis for such enquiries is what largely distinguishes these projects from those of legal philosophers.

The first part of the course (4 weeks in MT) introduces some of the main sociological thinkers to have addressed these questions, including Durkheim (the notion of law as a mirror of social life and the basis of social solidarity), Weber (law as an instrument of the ruler), and Ehrlich (living law). We will use case studies, along with the writings of more recent scholars, such as Roberts, Cotterrell, and Galligan, to assess the relevance of their approaches for contemporary scholarship and social issues.

The second part of the course (8 weeks in HT) uses anthropological and historical case studies to address the same questions. The focus is largely on understanding the different systems of law found in other societies and historical periods. How are we to understand the laws and legal processes of non-literate societies, for example, or the codes of medieval European kings, or the feuding relations of contemporary Tibetan pastoralists? What do they mean and do, and where do they come from? On what grounds can we even define them as law? We do not, however, neglect contemporary studies from the western world, also considering studies of court use, the appeal of human rights, and new forms of transnational law. The diversity of such examples challenges us to ask what unites them as examples of law. Asking about what is unfamiliar causes us to reflect on the parameters and cultural specificity of our own concepts of law and students will be encouraged to think constructively and critically about familiar legal phenomena and their universal application.

The course is convened by Dr Fernanda Pirie of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. There are 4 seminars in Michaelmas term (odd weeks) and 8 in Hilary term (weekly).

Assessment is by a three hour written examination.


People

Law in Society teaching is organized by:

Fernanda Pirie: Associate Professor of Socio-Legal Studies

Also working in this field, but not involved in its teaching programme:

Denis Galligan: Professor of Socio-Legal Studies

Graduate students working in this field:

Sajjad Khoshroo: DPhil Socio-Legal Studies student

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Media Law

News

Price Media Law Moot Court Regional Rounds in Beijing and Delhi

The Price Media Law mooting programme for 2014-15 had an exciting start with the 5th South Asian Regional Rounds in Delhi in late November […]

Courses

The course we offer in this field is:

Undergraduate

FHS - Final Year (Phase III)

The degree is awarded on the basis of nine final examinations at the end of the three-year course (or four years in the case of Law with Law Studies in Europe) and (for students who began the course in October 2011 or later) an essay in Jurisprudence written over the summer vacation at the end of the second year. Note: the Jurisprudence exam at the end of the third year is correspondingly shorter. This phase of the Final Honour School includes the first and second term of the final year; the Final Examinations are taken in the third term of the final year.

Media Law

Media Law is a fast developing and increasingly high profile area of law. It is an area that allows scholars to look at advanced issues relating to freedom of expression and the right to communicate, and the way these rights intersect with competing interests. The course covers a number of key themes in Media Law and will begin by looking at the justifications for and meanings of media freedom. This introduction will provide a theoretical background against which the later topics will be evaluated. The topics in the course can be grouped into three broad categories:

(1) Liability for media content – For example, when can the press publish facts about a person’s private life? Do public figures have weaker rights to reputation? Will media coverage prejudice a jury trial?

(2) Legal assistance and control of newsgathering – Can the police seize journalists’ notebooks? When do journalists have a right not to disclose the identity of confidential sources?

(3) Media regulation – What system of regulation should govern the press? Why do we have different regulatory systems for television and newspapers (and where should the internet fit in this scheme of things)? How much media should any person or company be allowed to control?

In different weeks, the course will build on areas already studied in Tort Law, Criminal Law and Constitutional and Administrative Law. The course will analyse these various issues in the light of the political and social functions (and responsibilities) of the media. In doing this, aspects of media theory and policy may be drawn on in the readings and discussion. At the end of this course students will have a good understanding of the key debates and principles underlying the legal controls on media and communications. 

 


People

Media Law teaching is organized by:

Jacob Rowbottom: Associate Professor of Law

Also working in this field, but not involved in its teaching programme:

Rogier Creemers: Research Officer
Nicole Stremlau: Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP)

Graduate students working in this field:

Daniela Simone: DPhil Law student
Randall Stephenson: DPhil Law student

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Regulation

Discussion Groups

These self-sustaining groups are an essential part of the life of our graduate school. They are organised in some cases by graduate students and in others by Faculty members and meet regularly during term, typically over a sandwich lunch, when one of the group presents work in progress or introduces a discussion of a particular issue or new case. They may also encompass guest speakers from the faculty and beyond.

Regulation Discussion Group

Courses

The courses we offer in this field are:

Postgraduate

BCL

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from common-law backgrounds

Regulation (not offered in 2014-15)

Regulation is at the core of how modern states seek to govern the activities of individual citizens as well as corporate and governmental actors. Broadly defined it includes the use of legal and non-legal techniques to manage social and economic risks. While regulation is traditionally associated with prescriptive law, public agencies and criminal as well as administrative sanctions, the politics of the shrinking state and deregulation have meant that intrusive and blunt forms of legal regulation have given way at times to facilitative, reflexive and procedural law which seeks to balance public and private interests in regulatory regimes. Policy debates have addressed whether there is actually too much, too little or the wrong type of regulation.

This course examines what role different forms of law play in contemporary regulatory regimes. It thereby analyses how legal regulation constructs specific relationships between law and society and how legal regulation is involved in mediating conflicts between private and public power. The first section of the course critically examines key conceptual approaches for understanding regulation. How can economic reasoning be employed in order to justify legal regulation? Does a focus on institutions help to understand the operation of regulatory regimes? What rationalities, and hence ‘governmentalities’ are involved in regulating through law? What role do emotions, such as trust, play in regulatory interactions? The second section of the course examines specific regulatory regimes against the background of the conceptual frameworks explored in the first section. This second section discusses ‘regulation in action’ in specific fields of current significance, such as: - the regulation of the legal profession, - the regulation of the carbon market in the EU - the regulation of the provision of health care in the UK - the regulation of education policy-making in the EU - the regulation of the internet - the regulation of housing The course thus provides an opportunity for students to examine the pervasive phenomenon of regulation with reference to different disciplinary perspectives, in particular law, sociology, politics and economics and to gain detailed knowledge of substantive regulatory law in specific fields of current relevance.

The course is taught through 15 two hour seminars - which provide opportunities for active student participation – over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Four tutorials spread over Hilary and Trinity terms will support students’ exam preparation. The 3 hour written examination at the end of the course involves essay questions.

The convenor of the course is Dr. Bettina Lange and the course is taught by a small group of Faculty members. If you have any questions about the contents, approach or teaching methods of this course do not hesitate to contact me: bettina.lange@csls.ox.ac.uk, Room 280, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Social Science Building, Manor Road.

MJur

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from civil law backgrounds.

Regulation (not offered in 2014-15)

Regulation is at the core of how modern states seek to govern the activities of individual citizens as well as corporate and governmental actors. Broadly defined it includes the use of legal and non-legal techniques to manage social and economic risks. While regulation is traditionally associated with prescriptive law, public agencies and criminal as well as administrative sanctions, the politics of the shrinking state and deregulation have meant that intrusive and blunt forms of legal regulation have given way at times to facilitative, reflexive and procedural law which seeks to balance public and private interests in regulatory regimes. Policy debates have addressed whether there is actually too much, too little or the wrong type of regulation.

This course examines what role different forms of law play in contemporary regulatory regimes. It thereby analyses how legal regulation constructs specific relationships between law and society and how legal regulation is involved in mediating conflicts between private and public power. The first section of the course critically examines key conceptual approaches for understanding regulation. How can economic reasoning be employed in order to justify legal regulation? Does a focus on institutions help to understand the operation of regulatory regimes? What rationalities, and hence ‘governmentalities’ are involved in regulating through law? What role do emotions, such as trust, play in regulatory interactions? The second section of the course examines specific regulatory regimes against the background of the conceptual frameworks explored in the first section. This second section discusses ‘regulation in action’ in specific fields of current significance, such as: - the regulation of the legal profession, - the regulation of the carbon market in the EU - the regulation of the provision of health care in the UK - the regulation of education policy-making in the EU - the regulation of the internet - the regulation of housing The course thus provides an opportunity for students to examine the pervasive phenomenon of regulation with reference to different disciplinary perspectives, in particular law, sociology, politics and economics and to gain detailed knowledge of substantive regulatory law in specific fields of current relevance.

The course is taught through 15 two hour seminars - which provide opportunities for active student participation – over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Four tutorials spread over Hilary and Trinity terms will support students’ exam preparation. The 3 hour written examination at the end of the course involves essay questions.

The convenor of the course is Dr. Bettina Lange and the course is taught by a small group of Faculty members. If you have any questions about the contents, approach or teaching methods of this course do not hesitate to contact me: bettina.lange@csls.ox.ac.uk, Room 280, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Social Science Building, Manor Road.

MSc (Master's in Law and Finance)

Regulation (not offered in 2014-15)

Regulation is at the core of how modern states seek to govern the activities of individual citizens as well as corporate and governmental actors. Broadly defined it includes the use of legal and non-legal techniques to manage social and economic risks. While regulation is traditionally associated with prescriptive law, public agencies and criminal as well as administrative sanctions, the politics of the shrinking state and deregulation have meant that intrusive and blunt forms of legal regulation have given way at times to facilitative, reflexive and procedural law which seeks to balance public and private interests in regulatory regimes. Policy debates have addressed whether there is actually too much, too little or the wrong type of regulation.

This course examines what role different forms of law play in contemporary regulatory regimes. It thereby analyses how legal regulation constructs specific relationships between law and society and how legal regulation is involved in mediating conflicts between private and public power. The first section of the course critically examines key conceptual approaches for understanding regulation. How can economic reasoning be employed in order to justify legal regulation? Does a focus on institutions help to understand the operation of regulatory regimes? What rationalities, and hence ‘governmentalities’ are involved in regulating through law? What role do emotions, such as trust, play in regulatory interactions? The second section of the course examines specific regulatory regimes against the background of the conceptual frameworks explored in the first section. This second section discusses ‘regulation in action’ in specific fields of current significance, such as: - the regulation of the legal profession, - the regulation of the carbon market in the EU - the regulation of the provision of health care in the UK - the regulation of education policy-making in the EU - the regulation of the internet - the regulation of housing The course thus provides an opportunity for students to examine the pervasive phenomenon of regulation with reference to different disciplinary perspectives, in particular law, sociology, politics and economics and to gain detailed knowledge of substantive regulatory law in specific fields of current relevance.

The course is taught through 15 two hour seminars - which provide opportunities for active student participation – over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Four tutorials spread over Hilary and Trinity terms will support students’ exam preparation. The 3 hour written examination at the end of the course involves essay questions.

The convenor of the course is Dr. Bettina Lange and the course is taught by a small group of Faculty members. If you have any questions about the contents, approach or teaching methods of this course do not hesitate to contact me: bettina.lange@csls.ox.ac.uk, Room 280, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Social Science Building, Manor Road.


People

Regulation teaching is organized by a Subject Group convened by:

Bettina Lange: Associate Professor of Law and Regulation

in conjunction with:

Susan Bright: Professor of Land Law, McGregor Fellow
Paul Craig: Professor of English Law
Anne Davies: Professor of Law and Public Policy
Liz Fisher: Professor of Environmental Law

Also working in this field, but not involved in its teaching programme:

Rachel Condry: Associate Professor of Criminology
Naomi Creutzfeldt: ESRC Research Fellow
Paul Davies: Senior Research Fellow
Ruth Deech: Chairman, Bar Standards Board, 2009-
Crossbench Peer
Luca Enriques: Allen & Overy Professor of Corporate Law
Keith Hawkins: Emeritus Professor of Law and Society
Jane Kaye: Director of the Centre for Law, Health and Emerging Technologies at Oxford: HeLEX
Petra Mahy: Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Socio-Legal Studies
Doreen McBarnet: Professor of Socio-Legal Studies
Jennifer Payne: Professor of Corporate Finance Law
Wolf-Georg Ringe: Departmental Lecturer
Jacob Rowbottom: Associate Professor of Law
Nikolaos Theodorakis: Tutor and Postdoctoral Research Fellow
John Vella: Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation

Graduate students working in this field:

Sebastian Castro Quiroz: DPhil Law student
Olumide Famuyiwa: DPhil Law student
Elizabeth Howell: DPhil Law student
Friso Jansen: DPhil Socio-Legal Studies student
Sinisa Milatovic: DPhil Law student
Kate Mitchell: DPhil Law student
Ka Cheung Ng: BCL student
Daisy Ogembo: DPhil Law student
Javier Solana: DPhil Law student

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