Law and politics are inseparably intertwined. From a rule-of-law perspective, legal norms regulate public, and increasingly private, institutions as well as legislative and executive actions. In its function as an arbiter of the political realm, thus, law seeks to confirm or constrain politics and the political, its actors, actions, narratives and images. However, legal norms not only regulate political actions, but social and political actions are also the norms’ precondition. One also must consider, thus, (legal) norms as socially and historically engrained in institutional settings, at times as the formal and informal “cultures of law”. Here, the political character of law can be analysed through a "longue durée" perspective, taking the historicity of law and historic as well as contemporary battles over the meaning of law into account. The focus on law and politics is one that explicitly asks for questions of re-distribution in society: who benefits, who loses, who is harmed?
While jurisprudence holds on an institutional understanding of law and normativity, allegedly focussing on “law in the books” and legal doctrine only, social sciences such as history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and political sciences have a broader view by looking at the formation of law in political contexts as well as at its social function and development, sometimes lacking, however, a doctrinal understanding of positive law.
By combining the different academic perspectives on the implicit and explicit relationship between law and politics, the Winter School aims at shedding light on respective disciplinary blind spots, or questions not posed yet, in order to foster a dialogue on different methodological and theoretical approaches of socio-legal research. By switching perspectives and leaving the comfort zone of one’s own academic subfield, participants will learn more about the interdisciplinary potential of their work within the thematic realm of law and politics and, thus, how to fill the often evoked but rarely applied concept of interdisciplinarity with live.
The Winter School provides a space to discuss the participants’ projects with fellow PhD students and renowned scholars of socio-legal research from different academic traditions (France, UK, Germany and the U.S.). Moreover, thematic, methodological and strategic academic topics are covered by workshops and panel discussions on interdisciplinary working on the relation of law and politics, the methodological challenges of socio-legal research and writing and publishing in an international context.