The study of law in society is the study of law as a historic, evolving, and culturally specific mode of social organisation; it is characterised by conceptual, as well as institutional, components. This means addressing the nature of societies, which vary throughout the world as much as laws do. It calls for a multi-disciplinary approach, which includes comparative and cross-cultural studies.

The Centre brings together scholars with diverse academic backgrounds. In their projects, our evolving group of researchers address fundamental questions about the nature and role of law in a variety of social contexts, the social foundations of constitutions, economic and environmental regulation, the changing nature of civil justice, migration, developments in media law, historical legalism and distinctiveness of legal cultures.

The disciplinary diversity of the Centre means that the insights of sociologists (Kurkchiyan) anthropologists (Pirie), political scientists (GreckschStremlau),  economists (Decker), legal scholars (BlackbournHodges, Holden, Lange)  and others can be brought together and pursue multi-faceted research projects.  The supportive environment of the Centre has enabled successive generations of young scholars to plant their feet on solid intellectual ground, and to develop the competence and confidence to launch careers in the academic world.

Our institutional research profile is notably outward-looking and international in scope. Exploring a diverse world, many of the Centre’s researchers conduct their study beyond the UK, or beyond Europe, in countries as diverse as Russia, China, the Far East, and East Africa. This takes them to the heart of many contemporary social and political issues. As well as cross-cultural elements within the above research, a number of collaborative projects are explicitly comparative and develop a historical approach.

The Centre facilitates cooperation and debate amongst researchers across the University and beyond encouraging engagement with scholars in the Faculty of Law and other University departments, including the Department for Politics and International Relations, Area Studies, the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, the Oxford Department for International Development, the Oxford Internet Institute, and the Environmental Change Institute.