Sociology Of Law


Enable the student to:
1) critically analyze concepts and principles of the main theories of sociology of law.
2) relate these theories to contemporary socio-political-legal problems.

General characterization





Responsible teacher



Weekly - 3

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Available soon



Lesson 1: Introduction

Lesson 2: BALIBAR, Etienne. "Ontological Difference, Anthropological Difference, and Equal Liberty" (forthcoming in the European Journal of Philosophy).


Lesson 3: HESPANHA, António Manuel. "Jurists as gamekeepers", Acta Histriae, 16(4), 2008, 477-502

With Prof. Ana Cristina Nogueira da Silva

Lesson  4: MARX, Karl. The German Ideology. Part 1 - Feuerbach, 1-3.

Lesson 5: WEBER, Max. Economy and Society: an outline of interpretative sociology. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1978; vol. II, VIII - The formal Qualities of Modern Law, p. 880-900.

Lesson 6: DURKHEIM, Émmile. "Review of Richard's Essay on the Origins of the Idea of Law". In: Durkheim and the Law, ed. by Steven Lukes and Andrew Scull. Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd ed. 2013 ("L'originne de l'idée du droit", 1883), p. 164-176.

Lesson 7:  Intermediate Test

Lesson 8: FOUCAULT, Michel, "Governmentality". In:  The Foucault effect : studies in governmentality, ed. by Graham Burchell and Peter Miller. Chicago,  University of Chicago Press, 1991 ("La gouvernementalité", in: Dits et Écrits, vol. III)

Lesson 9: LUHMANN, Niklas. Law as a social system. Oxford University Press, 2004 [1993]. Chapter 12: Society and its law.

Lesson 10: HABERMAS, Jürgen, Between Facts and Norms. Contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachussets, 1996. Chapter 2: Concepts of Sociology of Law and Philosophy of Justice.

Lesson 11: BOURDIEU, Pierre. "The Force of Law: Toward a Sociology of the Juridical Field", The Hastings Law Journal, 1987, 38,  p. 814-853.

Lesson 12: HONNETH, Axel. Freedom's Right. The Social Foundations of Democratic Life. New York, Columbia University Press. 2014, III, 3, c, "Political culture".



CASTEL, Robert."The Roads to Disaffiliation: Insecure Work and Vulnerable Relationsships". International Journal of Urban & Regional Research. 2000, 24 (3), p.519-536.  DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.00262.

GUIBENTIF, Pierre. "The Sociology of Law as a Sub-Discipline of Sociology", The Portuguese Journal of Social Science, 2003, 1(3), 175-184.

SANTOS, Boaventura de Sousa. "The Resilience of Abyssal Exclusions in Our Societies: Toward a Post-Abyssal Law", Tilburg Law Review, 2017, 22(1-2), 237-258.

GUEDES, Armando Marques. "Democracy and its Boundaries. Can there be such a thing as a bona fide intergenerational social contract?", Intergenerational Justice Review 1/2010: 31-22.

Teaching method

Critical analysis of the concepts and principles of the main theories of sociology of law. In this critical analysis, it is necessary to contextualize,  compare and demonstrate the scope and relevance
of these theories (objective 1), applying them to contemporary legal and socio-political issues at the local, European, international and global levels (objective 2).
The class will consist of the teacher's exposition, the exposition of student groups and practical exercises to analyze the studied texts.

Evaluation method

1) Other Elements: 40% (optional)

2) Final exam: 60% for those who have made "Other Elements". Otherwise, 100%.


1) Other Elements: 2 components

1.1) First component: INTERMEDIATE TEST

a) The Intermediate Test is of 10 points

a) Three-hour Intermediate Test without consultation on the mandatory texts studied in the first six sessions.

b) Example of the type of question: "Analyze the following sentence by Weber: ...".

c) The student must answer 5 questions in all, each one is of 2 points ¿¿and refer to a mandatory text.

1.2) Second component: ESSAY

a) The essay (in group or individual) is of 10 points

b) The evaluation will be made only to the essay, but only the essay of those who made the oral presentation will be considered.

c) Date of delivery of the essay: one week after the last day of class.

d) The best essays will be recommended for publication as a ¿working paper¿ at CEDIS.

e) Essay structure:

Introduction (1.5 points). Presentation of the question to be investigated and the structure of the essay.

Part 1: Historical and theoretical context (1.5 points).

Part 2: Fundamental general concepts of the author (1.5 points). Ex: concept of "field" for Bourdieu.

Part 3: Fundamental juridical concepts of the author (1.5 points). Ex: concept of "legal field" for Bourdieu.

Part 4: Reception (uses of this author by other authors (1,5 points). Ex .: The reception of Bourdieu's concept of "legal field" by Orlando Villas-Boas Filho.

Conclusion (1.5 points). Critical analysis. Ex: what is the importance of Bourdieu's concept of legal field today? Application of the theory to a contemporary socio-political-legal problem.

If everything is done exceptionally: 1 point


2) Final Exam

a) The Final Exam is of 20 points

b) Exam of three hours without consultation on the studied texts.

c) Question format: "Analyze the following sentence by Weber: ...".

d) The student must answer 5 questions in all, each of 4 values ¿¿and referring to one of the studied texts.

- Four questions must be from Group 1

- A fifth question from Group 1 or Group 2

Group 1 consists only of mandatory texts

Group 2 consists of mandatory texts and the texts indicated as "to go further".

e) It is recommended that each analysis has around one page. In the case of the page with the header sheet, a little more.


Correction grid of Test and Exam

An analysis should contain:

a) the formulation of the problem to be analyzed (0.5 point in the test, 1 point in the exam),

b) its development (0.5 value in the test, 1 value in the exam)

c) and a personal position (0.5 point in the test, 1 point in the exam)

d) theoretically based, that is, based on the theoretical concepts and theories of the studied authors (0.5 value in the test, 1 value in the exam).

A problematic analyzes what is said in the sentence from something that is not said in the sentence (an idea, a concept, a theory, a criticism ...).

Ex: "Jurists are the hypocritical guardians of collective hypocrisy, that is, of the respect for the universal. The verbal respect that is universally granted to the universal is an extraordinary social force and, as everyone knows, those who manage to have the universal at their side are endowed with a significant social force "(Pierre Bourdieu, The jurists, guardians of collective hypocrisy). Possible problems:

- The codification of law according to Bourdieu: production of rationalization, universalization, normalization and hypocrisy.

- Universal reason: a priori, historical or hypocritical? An analysis from Bourdieu

Subject matter

Each session is dedicated to the analysis of a theory of sociology of law and its relation to contemporary socio-political-legal problems.


Programs where the course is taught: