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Sociology Seminar: What do you do with 30 000 court orders?


Date: Wednesday 20 April 2022

Time: 13.00 – 14.00

Location: B800/Zoom

Topic: ”What do you do with 30 000 court orders?” Presentation on jurisprudence, legal science, sociology, sociology of law by Johanna Schiratzki, Ann-Zofie Duvander, and Johanna Finnström.



Court judgments are fact-intensive and, in this country, easily accessible data. In our project “Fragmented Child law” we collect close to 30 000 orders from first instance courts.  Apart from personal data, the judgements give detailed, sometimes heterogenous information on issues of vital importance for the concerned and account for the legal reasoning leading to an assessment, which is enforceable through state power. Court orders are increasingly used as data in social science, i.e. in register studies, but less so in legal science? 

The question “What do you [a legal scholar] do with 30 000 court orders” mirrors an understanding of research on law and society as consisting of three steps; a first on theoretical explanations for state power through law, a second on the mechanisms of the legal system itself, and a third on the effects of it. 

Legal scholars’ expertise is mostly on the second step; to understand the law. Traditionally research on legal phenomena is carried out as either jurisprudence (rättsdogmatik) or legal science (rättsvetenskap) Jurisprudence aim to uncover “universal characteristics” of the law (Coyle, 2005). According to the jurisprudence perspective, no answers could be drawn from judgements of courts of first instance. Legal science, however, aims to uncover law as a mechanism in concrete cases, mostly using the same tools as a practicing lawyer working with the interpretation and hierarchy of the sources of law. All the same more prominent sources of law, e.g. precedents from Supreme courts are prioritized over first instance court cases.

In sociology, as well as in sociology of law, the research focus is frequently either on theoretical explanations, or the third step on the effects of law at the individual and societal level (Hydén, 2013). The middle step, the critical analysis of the legal system, is often left for legal scholars to handle. During the seminar we would like to discuss the pro and cons of such a division of research task on interlinked social and legal phenomena.


How to register

Contact Vanessa Barker,