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Law and Culture (working group)

Our working group is open to anyone who is interested! If you want to learn more or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Laura Borchert (

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.


Current Activities

Our working group will meet again in late summer 2020 (we will probably meet virtually). For more information on specific dates and past activities, please contact one of our working group speakers.