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Law and Culture (working group)

The working group is not active at the moment and therefore on hold. 

Mission Statement

The manifold reciprocal effects of law and culture have long been a focus of research. In his inaugural speech as rector of the university at Giessen in 1928, German professor of law Leo Rosenberg stressed that culture owes its very existence to law: “Culture and cultural progress can exist only behind the protective wall of the Law.” That law itself is a cultural phenomenon has also been expounded upon, e.g., by the philosophers of law Emil Lask and Gustav Radbruch (Rechtsphilosophie [Philosophy of Law], § 3). However, examining the meaning of law has long remained an internal issue within the preserve of jurisprudence and legal studies – with dogmatic subjects and disciplines – without the involvement of any epistemological methods and insights of other disciplines. The understanding of law as a cultural phenomenon received new impetusafter the “Law and Economics” movement became dominant in the USA during the 1970s; “Law and Literature” represented a counter approach to law as not being based in rational-choice theory or economics. Law and Literature combines various approaches to law, including the analysis of the portrayal of law in literary works and readings of legal texts in terms of their narrative or ‘literary’ qualities. In contrast with the image of law as an autonomous, rational system, law is shown to be dependent on and conditioned by culture. “Law and Culture,” in turn, serves as an umbrella term for this working group to investigate law as a cultural and culturally embedded process as well as legal cultures, “living law” and “legal consciousness.” This includes the entirety of prerequisites and in particular the implicit preconceptions and assumptions that underlie a given legal system as well as groups’ and individual’s subjective relations to law and legality. Beyond a monolithic understanding of “Law” and of “Culture,” denoted by the use of these terms in the singular, the working group will focus on the diversity of legal systems and cultures of law. Academics in the fields of Law and Cultural Studies from Germany and from Anglophone countries will collaborate in this research.


Last Activities

For more information on specific dates and past activities, please contact one of our working group speakers.

Thursday, 03 February 2022, 3 PM

Markus Ciesielski: "Rechtsreform und Ungleichheit. Die kolumbianische acción de tutela und das Recht auf Bildung"

Markus Ciesielski, Soziologe, ist Doktorand an der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen. Fokussiert auf die Region Lateinamerika arbeitet er zu Verfassungsklagen und sozialer Transformation, Grundrechten, Konflikten sozialer Ungleichheit und soziologischen Theorien des Rechts.


Friday, 29 January 2021, 4 PM

Prof. Hanne Petersen: "Biased Reflections on German Legal Culture(s)? An Essay from Corona Times"

This essay on German legal cultures covers German mirrors, legal pluralism (territorial, federal, ideological, linguistic), gender and political legal cultures, moves toward democratic cultures, cultures of silence and coming to terms with the past, memory culture, literary and popular legal culture and touches on 'corona normativities'.