Research Seminar in Sociology of Law with Marc Hertogh
The Sociology of Law Department arranges a series of research seminars inviting local and international social scientists to present state-of-the-art research within various areas of law and society.
Towards a New Approach to Strengthen the Rule of Law in Europe: Incorporating EU Citizens’ Perceptions of Law
The European Union (EU) is in a serious rule of law crisis. Policy reforms in Hungary and Poland are considered a threat to European values. For the future of the EU, policymakers have to find a way to end this crisis. However, the current approach that emphasizes the legal foundations of the rule of law does not offer a fundamental solution. For the law to rule, it has to count in society. Therefore, we need also to consider the social foundations of the rule of law: people need to know the law, recognise the law as legitimate, and use the law. While there is a large body of research on the legal foundations, the social foundations of the rule of law are still largely a black box. The research aim of CITIZENS-LAW is to develop a new approach that uses empirical research into EU citizens’ perceptions of law to develop a more effective governance toolkit to strengthen the rule of law in Europe. Drawing on the international legal consciousness literature, CITIZENS-LAW will use an innovative mixed-methods approach (focus group discussions, national surveys, social media analysis and photo-elicitation interviews) to study public perceptions of law in the Netherlands and the two ‘extreme cases’ of Denmark and Hungary. By analysing the social foundations of the rule of law, CITIZENS-LAW will make a major contribution to interdisciplinary rule of law scholarship. Furthermore, finding an effective way to solve the rule of law crisis will benefit many European citizens and businesses.
Marc Hertogh is a Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands and Academic Director of the Groningen Centre for Empirical Legal Research. His research focuses on public opinion about law, with a special interest in legal consciousness, legal pluralism, and administrative justice. He has written widely on these subjects, including The Oxford Handbook of Administrative Justice, Nobody’s Law: Legal Consciousness and Legal Alienation in Everyday Life, the Research Handbook on the Ombudsman, Living Law: Reconsidering Eugen Ehrlich and Judicial Review and Bureaucratic Impact. His work has been published in leading journals such as Law and Policy, Journal of Law and Society, Social & Legal Studies, and Jurisprudence. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Council for the Judiciary and a member of the Council for Responsive Government (Ministry of the Interior). He is also Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Law in Context (Cambridge University Press) and a former associate research fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (University of Oxford). In 2021, he received a highly competitive grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for his three-year research project CITIZENS-LAW. Towards a New Approach to Strengthen the Rule of Law in Europe: Incorporating EU Citizens’ Perceptions of Law