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Project: Legal reform and inequality. The Colombian acción de tutela and the right to education.

With a case study related to Colombia, the PhD-project asks if and how judicial reform projects can give answers to the societal crisis of democratic systems. The work is concerned with the acción de tutela. The tutela is a legal procedure to protect fundamental rights, that was established in the 90ties in the midst of an extensive crisis of the Colombian society. In this work, recent tutelas with educational conflicts will be focused. It will be asked how this example can be helpful to understand the relation between fundamental guarantees and societal transformation.


In this discussion the persistent social inequalities in Colombia challenge the hope for an extensive change of societal reality, which is mainly conducted in legal sciences. Consequently, the main focus on the overcoming of societal crisis causes a research gap when working on the relation of fundamental rights guarantees and societal transformation. Nevertheless, this is a problematic assumption because of the continuity of social disparities, especially in education, even if the tutela is used frequently.


For this reason, the project aims to develop an alternative approach to the relation of social transformation and law. Using recent research on Pierre Bourdieus “legal thinking” (Kretschmann 2019, Bourdieu 1987) and his concept of societal conflicts, law is seen rather as a specific representation than a solution of societal conflicts. This conflict representation is meaningful for the practice of actors. I argue that research on the relations between social transformation and the claims to fundamental guarantees should take into account the thought, perception and acting patterns that (re-)configure when the tutela is used.


With an empiric contribution to the legal representations of educative conflicts this work pretends to show consequences of legal mobilization in Latin America that have not been shown from a sociological viewpoint. This new perspective is supposed not only to amplify the significance of existing debates regarding the “new constitutionalism” and its societal transformations. The thesis’ contribution is also to improve our understanding of the broader relation between law and social inequality.



  • Markus Ciesielski. Doctoral student. Peace Studies at the University of Giessen 
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Peters. Chair for Peace Studies at the Faculty of Law at the University of Gießen