- Legal Profession
- Legal encounters
- Legal Aid
- State Transformation
- Socio-Legal Theory and Methodology
My research covers a number of different areas within the sociology of law using insights from sociology of elites, education, political science and science, legal history and jurisprudence. A recurrent denominator is the legal profession as an entrance to examine elites, education and development of states and markets. Moreover, my research engages with legal encounters focusing on the predispute phase, i.e. how disputes emerge and transform into legal disputes. To be able to examine such issues, my basic research interest is in socio-legal theories and methodologies.
Some of my current research projects:
- Lawyers in 21st-Century Societies is a collaborative work comparing 46 jurisdictions around the world. It addresses the impact of globalisation and neoliberalism on Legal professions, changes in lawyer demography, legal education, production structures, distribution of lawyers across roles, and access to justice.
- Legal encounters: Law of the welfare state is characterised by framework law leaving discretion to caseworkers and opening up for other concerns than strictly legal. My research examines framework law’s impact on legal encounters between caseworkers and youth homeless.
- Legal aid: Which paths do citizens follow and which barriers exist to seek legal assistance and how does the supply of legal aid affect citizens ability to seek legal aid? The research gives insight into the relationship between ‘justiciable’ problems and deprivation and illustrates the role of legal aid institutions in the battle against social exclusion.
- Lawyers and state transformations change the focus from the category of legal professions towards an exploration of state transformations. It pursues two interrelated avenues. Firstly, this lens can prove powerful to trace, over time, the interaction between legal evolution and the periodic outbreak of political upheavals. In this, the project takes on the cue of the sociology of the state and legal history by focusing on the symbiosis between the relative autonomy of the legal field and the legitimation of state power, stressing the key role of intermediation played by lawyers in the formation of state power. A corollary of this hypothesis is that the comparative historical analysis of national fields of state power can help shed light on the structure and transformation of national legal fields.
In my research I primarily use qualitative methods, but have e.g. also used statistics, comparisons, prosopography, and historical methods.
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I hold a PhD from the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. Since 2004 I have been employed at the Department of Law, University of Southern Denmark; from 2014 as professor in sociology of law. In 2021-22 I am a visiting professor of Sociology of Law, Lund University. I was Professor II at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo between 2015-17. I have been a member and chairman of The Danish Council for Independent Research | Social Sciences and Nordic editor-in-chief, Retfærd. Nordic legal Journal and member of the editorial board of Praktiske Grunde. Nordisk tidsskrift for kultur- og samfundsvidenskab.