tracks englisch

The following tracks will be offered within the congress. Presentations can be submitted within one of these tracks or, if they have a different thematic reference, they can be assigned to the track "General Papers". In individual cases, the program committee may move papers to another track after consultation. A maximum of two papers may be submitted per author.

[deutsch] [english]


Track 1: Knowledge about law, knowledge in law, knowledge for law

Responsible: Christian Boulanger, Valentin Feneberg, Stefan Machura, Caroline Voithofer, Andrea Fritsche

Track 2: Legal Subjectivity and Legal Subjects

Responsible: Michelle Cottier, Elisabeth Holzleithner, Caroline Voithofer

Track 3: (Non-)mobilisation of Law and Rights

Responsible: Andrea Fritsche, Hemma Mayrhofer, Michael Wrase

Track 4: Access to Criminal Law

Responsible: Walter Fuchs, Veronika Hofinger, Tobias Singelnstein

Track 5: Access to Social Rights, access to Social Law

Responsible: Felix Welti, Katie Baldschun, Sarah Schulz

Track 6: Global Approaches to Law

Responsible: Tobias Eule

Track 7: Courts in Crisis

Responsible: Oliver Lembcke, Christian Boulanger, Valentin Feneberg

Track 8: The Environment in Law

Responsible: Vagias Karavas, Doris Schweitzer

Track 9: Societal Security  The Sense of Security and Access to Justice

Responsible: Josef Estermann, Reinhard Kreissl



Track Descriptions

Track 1: Knowledge about law, knowledge in law, knowledge for law [pdf]

Responsible: Caroline Voithofer (Innsbruck), Stefan Machura (Bangor), Valentin Feneberg (Berlin), Christian Boulanger (Berlin), Andrea Fritsche (Vienna)

Knowledge about law, knowledge in law and knowledge for law in many ways act as gatekeepers in the access to law. Knowledge about subjective rights, law enforcement mechanisms or about legal advice services often precedes the mobilization of law (knowledge about law). In the application of law, in turn, both professional legal knowledge and extra-legal expert knowledge play a central role (knowledge in law and for law). The study of the interrelationships of knowledge, power, and law is therefore promising in the context of access to law.

Knowledge about law

Law permeates all areas of life, and what people think they know about law is correspondingly diverse, as are the sources from which they draw this knowledge. The continuum ranges from the lawyer, who uses accepted sources of knowledge in her role in the legal system (see also "Knowledge in Law" below), to the citizen who remembers his law classes, advice programs on the radio, or even dramatic events in motion pictures. Thus, this part of the track can be about aspects of legal consciousness, knowledge and opinion on law, or popular legal culture. It can also be discussed how this knowledge is incorporated into the legal system.

Knowledge in law 

Knowledge in law is understood as the knowledge that members of the legal profession acquire, apply, negotiate and reproduce in their institutionally framed practice. It comes in different forms: as application knowledge of practitioners and thus often implicit experiential knowledge; as doctrinal "black letter" law in the narrower sense, which makes assertions about the applicable law; finally, the teaching and examination knowledge that is imparted to students and trainees during their training and which is meant to connect theory and practice. From the beginning, the sociology of law has empirically and theoretically investigated practices of knowledge production and reception; recently, after a long period of disinterest, the social sciences have again become increasingly interested in legal education and in the question of how legal knowledge, especially legal dogmatics, is produced in practice.

Knowledge for Law

Legal practice depends on empirical and theoretical knowledge from other disciplines. This knowledge is either produced explicitly for the court room , for example, when psychiatric, technical, or anthropological experts provide expert opinions in criminal, construction, or asylum proceedings. Alternatively, it exists independently of the legal system, such as, for example, reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which are then used in climate litigation processes. Its legal use always implies an interpretation and transformation of knowledge: law shapes reality according to its normative needs and thus carries out a systemic construction of reality. For this construction, further extra-legal knowledge resources are of importance, such as everyday theories, (plausibility) assumptions or experiential knowledge. Through them, (epistemic and legal) uncertainty is bridged and thus decision-making is made possible. Legal research must ask about the access of extra-legal knowledge to the law, about (institutional) factors of judicial knowledge production, and about the transformation that legal and extra-legal knowledge resources undergo in their interaction in decision-making and justification.

The track is based on a broad understanding of knowledge. It is meant to encompass "internal" legal doctrinal knowledge, "external" knowledge that is processed and transformed in law, knowledge from non-legal disciplines about law, or (implicit) knowledge about law from lay people, as it is conveyed, for example, through educational programs, legal advice institutions, or popular culture. The aforementioned areas form a continuum and also include pre-understandings, values, and measures that shape the application of law.

The track invites contributions that illuminate this broad field; critically engage with the topic of "Knowledge & Law" in the context of the congress theme; and whose contributors are willing to discuss the underlying understanding of "knowledge" in each case.


Track 2: Legal Subjectivity and Legal Subjects [pdf]

Responsible: Michelle Cottier (Geneva), Elisabeth Holzleithner (Vienna), Caroline Voithofer (Innsbruck)

Being a legal subject, i.e. having (subjective) rights and being able to exercise them, is a precondition for access to justice. But who has access to this status, how is legal subjectivity defined and what adjustments are needed?

The fact that every human being is recognised as a legal subject is considered a legacy of the Enlightenment. Approaches such as intersectional legal gender studies, post- and decolonial analyses and (dis)ability studies criticize the often only implicitly presupposed ideal of the autonomous legal subject who participates in legal life with full capacity in an interest-oriented manner. They ask who is prevented from mobilising the law because of a deviation from this ideal (e.g. due to gender identity, social, economic, geographical or family circumstances or lack of resources). Sometimes people are excluded from access to justice and experience themselves in the status of mere legal objects or as displaced persons. One might think of the situation of refugees who are detained in border areas or of workers in exploitative conditions similar to slavery.

Legal science itself is of late intensively concerned with questions of the beginning and end of legal personality: Is the embryo already a legal subject, what is the legal status of human stem cells, ova and sperm, what rights are accorded to the human corpse? At the same time, the law is opening up for entities that are counted so far as part of the world of things and which may now be granted legal subjectivity: In particular, the status as a legal entity of artificial intelligence, of animals or of rivers and forests is being discussed. From the perspective of its proponents, expanding the status of the legal subject is considered a central strategy for managing current social crises with legal means.

However, participating in the status of legal subjectivity and being able to struggle for rights in this way is not without ambivalences. For example, there is a danger of subordinating collective problems to the exclusionary logic of individual rights mobilisation. Also, alternatives of collective legal action need to be scrutinized as to whether and to what extent they can leave this problem behind and what role legal subjectivity plays in this context.

The track is open to all contributions that deal theoretically or empirically with these and similar questions around legal subjects and legal subjectivity.


Track 3: (Non-)mobilisation of Law and Rights [pdf]

Responsible: Andrea Fritsche (Vienna), Hemma Mayrhofer (Vienna), Michael Wrase (Berlin)

Individual or collective mobilisations of law or rights are preconditional. In order to understand such processes in their entirety, it is important to not only examine the invocation of law and its institutions, but also the processes preceding involvement with law. This track focuses on the processing of (potentially) legally relevant problems, conflicts or claims and explores the role of law therein. Of relevance are processes in which individuals or groups invoke the law and its institutions and/or refer to the law or rights discursively. Explicit consideration should also be given to those processes in which law is not mobilised for conflict or problem resolution or for the enforcement of fundamental and human rights, or for situations in which alternative paths are chosen.

In general, the following questions can be focused on: How are problems, conflicts or claims framed, and to what extent are references made to law or to individual or collective rights? Under what conditions is the law mobilised, and when and why is it not mobilised? Which individual and structural preconditions and resources influence the (non-)use of or reference to the law? What is the significance of social inequality determinants such as race, origin, social status and gender in the (non-)mobilisation of law and rights? What role does social change as a result of digitalisation and mediatisation play in this context, and how does it affect the (non-)mobilisation of rights?

The track invites participants to take a closer look at different levels of the (non-)mobilisation of law:

Prior to the (non-)mobilisation of law

Looking at the processes that precede the decision to (not) mobilise law raises, among others, questions on the following topics: How does the transformation of conflicts, problems and claims (legal needs) take shape? What role do aspects such as legal consciousness, social meaning and images of law play? How do needs and demands become claims framed in terms of legal rights (e.g. rights talk)? What factors inhibit or support these processes? Which actors shape these aspects and processes?

During/alongside the (non-)mobilisation of law

At this point, we are more interested in aspects that are relevant during the mobilisation of law or that enable alternative paths: Which aspects favour or hinder action before the law and its institutions? What role do structural inequalities play? What form do informal conflict resolution processes take, and how are institutes of mediation, conciliation or arbitration relevant? Where are the limits on the mobilisation of law or why are mobilisation processes discontinued (e.g. waiving a right to appeal, etc.)? To what extent can legal institutions of personal protection or welfare, such as the provision of statutory representation or legal care be understood as instruments of legal mobilisation by proxy? What are the mechanisms involved in the collective mobilisation of rights? What role do social movements play in legal and societal dynamics?

Subsequent to the (non-)mobilisation of law

In terms of consequences, the (non-)mobilisation of law and rights leads to further relevant questions: What are the effects of the (non-)mobilisation of law or alternatives on the level of the conflict, the subject or society, or on the law itself? To what extent can the mobilisation of rights contribute to (or prevent) empowerment and emancipation?


Track 4: Access to Criminal Law [pdf]

Responsible: Walter Fuchs (Berlin), Veronika Hofinger (Vienna), Tobias Singelnstein (Frankfurt)

This track explores the question of how access to criminal law is structured; of where, how and to whom it is available or closed; and to what extent it is unequally distributed in society. This question has two dimensions: First, there is the issue of who has access to legal resources in processes of criminalization, who can use them for themselves, and who actually does use them. Whose interests – symbolic or material – are pursued through criminal legislation? How accessible is the instrument of making a police complaint to whom, and for what purposes is it used by whom? Who can influence judicial investigations (whether on the side of the accused or the victim), and how? To whom are diversionary settlements more likely to be open? How evenly are the resources for defense and defendant protections distributed? Who can successfully conduct criminal "litigation PR", and how? On the other hand, the perspective can be reversed, thus asking why certain people and behaviors are more likely to be affected by criminalization processes than others. Here, then, we are concerned with access to criminalization as a negative good: Who is subjected to an increased pressure of informal or formal social control? Who has no or only very limited means of avoiding criminal prosecution? 

 Both dimensions may involve a variety of different phenomena. These include those that are summarized by the keyword "class justice"; that persons of lower socioeconomic status have fewer means of asserting their (defense) rights (court fees; defense and legal aid; etc.) on the one hand, and are affected by criminalization in a particular way on the other hand. But more fundamentally, we will be asking what role socio-economic and other factors, such as ethnicity, play in access to law and justice and in criminalization. The accessibility of criminal law to particularly vulnerable groups, e.g., people in prisons or shelters, may also be an issue, for example when they are victimized and there is no possibility of effective prosecution. Finally, a topic might revolve around the comprehensibility of the criminal law’s language, e.g., language barriers and the unintelligibly of criminal justice for legal laypersons and/or people whose first language is not German.


Track 5: Access to Social Rights, access to Social Law [pdf]

Responsible: Felix Welti (Kassel), Katie Baldschun (Kassel), Sarah Schulz (Kassel)

The current processes to adapt ecological and economic change have to be developed interdependently with a social transformation, on a national level and at the same time transnationally and globally. The transformation process is probably adversarial. Law offers by its nature the possibility to balance these conflicts. In doing so, it can provide access to compensatory justice and at the same time it needs to create and expand its access to legal protection.

In a democracy, political equality is the central condition for participation in the decision-making process. It is clear, however, that political equality is not without prerequisites. Political equality remains an illusion without livelihood security and social participation rights. Hence, political equality and social equality are interrelated. Social equality is realized in society. With regard to social equality, Social Law is to be understood as a concretized claim to social rights that can be justified in terms of legal philosophy. On all levels of abstraction, it is about to discuss the individual and collective chances to mobilize social rights and their accessibility, that means the access to the regulation and implementation of social entitlements, generally and in sub-areas.

The track welcomes all contributions dealing with access to social rights and the Social Law, nationally and internationally.


  • How do social rights affect society and how does society affect social rights?

  • What does an effective guarantee of social rights look like?

  • How is the goal of social justice and equal participation realized in authentic norms, in their setting, implementation and application?

  • How need institutions be designed, e.g. through self-government and participation, so that social rights can be mobilized, concretized and claimed?

  • What interests come together and how participatory are the processes?

  • Which (and how) are the situations/living situations/places in which people seek access to social rights (and their needs)?

  • What are the preconditions, aids and barriers for individual rights mobilization, what is the significance of collective mobilization in the formulation and enforcement of social rights?

  • What is the role of public and private institutions and other actors for the access to social rights, and how this access to service providers and courts needs to be designed so that social rights can be claimed and enforced?

  • Is the current Corona pandemic as a crisis an opportunity to improve access, e.g., through digitization?


Track 6: Global Approaches to Law [pdf]

Responsible: Tobias Eule (Bern), Laura Affolter (Bern)

Outside of national legal logics (and associated national access barriers and facilitations), access to law is often particular - and particularly challenging, both practically, methodologically and theoretically. Conceptions of, knowledge about and mobilisations of international are often even more specialised and less accessible. This applies to the institutions of international law as well as (especially) to private international law and international arbitration. This track invites us to take these particular conditions into account.

A global perspective on access to law also requires putting the traditionally sharp distinction between national and supranational, private and public law into a different context. This is currently illustrated in discussions on access to national law by third parties not resident in the country (for example, in the context of German debates on a supply chain law or the Swiss Responsible Business Initiative). This track also addresses the question of the extent to which a transnational legal perspective entails new approaches and responses to barriers to access.

A third important topic in this context is the debates on the decolonisation of law, in which perspectives from the global South on prevailing norms and legal instruments also raise the question of the extent to which access to law (for example, to lawmaking, to interpretive sovereignty, but also to new considerations of a decolonised global law) can – and must – be looked at anew.

Approaches to supranational institutions, transnational legal practices or decolonial perspectives challenge us to understand law and its mobilisation beyond traditional explanatory approaches. The track encourages this and is open to contributions that theoretically or empirically address these and similar aspects around global, transnational and or decolonial approaches to law.


Track 7: Courts in Crisis [pdf]

Responsible: Oliver Lembcke (Bochum), Christian Boulanger (Berlin), Valentin Feneberg (Berlin)

This track examines courts as institutions and actors in the different realms of law and politics. The focus is on their role in times of widespread normality on the one hand and increased vulnerability to crises on the other. The judiciary has an astonishing variety of forms, and people expect very differently from them. Within the social sciences, theoretical approaches perceive courts as bureaucratic administrators of small-scale conflicts and safeguards against social upheavals or veto-players of the government.

Different academic disciplines treat Courts differently. Increasingly, however, we can see that the specific perspectives and methods can mutually enrich or at least productively irritate each other. In this sense, the track offers a broad forum for contributions on the following questions:

  • How do courts act in (supposed or actual) times of crisis (i.e., the pandemic, migration, climate change, finance, etc.)?

  • Which political changes and which own behavior leads to crisis-like changes in the judiciary itself?

  • What is the role of the interplay between strategic litigation and sprawling/excessive (or absent) judicial activism?

  • What developments can we see in the tense relationship between democracy and constitutionalism on the one hand, and between legislative and case law, on the other?

We want to invite contributions that discuss these and related questions. Empirical studies in the form of case studies and comparative studies are welcome.


Track 8: The Environment in Law [pdf]

Responsible: Vagias Karavas (Lucerne), Doris Schweitzer (Frankfurt/Main)

According to Erich Hörl, we are currently witnessing the breakthrough of a new historical semantics, that of ecology, not least because of the massive consequences of climate change, the forced extinction of species, the littering of the oceans or the poisoning of the soil (and groundwater). It is therefore not surprising that in law too, the ecological question increasingly gives rise to fundamental discussions. The concepts and conflict resolution mechanisms of conventional nature conservation acts and environmental law no longer seem to be effective in the face of the threat to humanity's existence, as paradigmatically expressed in the anthropocene diagnosis.

On the one hand, it is evident that the ecological question is being addressed in novel ways. The "rights of nature," through which the status of nature or natural objects as legal subjects is – not only for postcolonial reasons – recognized, represent only one prominent and much-discussed example here. One can also point to numerous new types of environmental regulation, for instance in the field of geoengineering and emissions trading. Yet also in criminal law we see concrete effects in the codification of ecocide in national legal systems, or in the intended codification at international level. In view of the anthropocene diagnosis, there is not only a struggle for law, but increasingly a struggle by means of law, which is expressed in particular in strategic litigation. Thus, a rapid increase in climate litigation can be observed, by means of which the responsibility of various actors (private legal entities such as Shell or RWE, but also governments) for the environmental consequences of their trade is claimed.

On the other hand, it is precisely the anthropocene diagnosis that poses challenges to law at a fundamental level. For ultimately, such central categories as space, time, (im)materiality, subject, law, duty and ethics, as well as responsibility and agency, are up for debate, affecting legal theory – but ultimately also the social sciences – in their very foundations.

The panel will explore the consequences the entry of the ecological question into law in the face of such existential problems as climate change etc. has – both in terms of legal dogma and theory, but also in terms of civil society and social theory:

  • How is nature addressed, and to what extent can transformations be discerned here?

  • How is the relationship between humans and nature being reconceptualized?

  • How are the classical categories of subject, responsibility or attribution changing?

  • Which new legal actors are appearing on the scene? What does strategic litigation mean in this context?

  • What legal dogmatic consequences can be identified? And vice versa: what social consequences do these transformations imply?


Track 9: Societal Security – The Sense of Security and Access to Justice [pdf]

Responsible: Josef Estermann (Zurich), Reinhard Kreissl (Vienna)

 The discourse on security in society, on the population’s sense of security, is often dominated by the discourse on crime. However, the discourse on societal security must be understood in a broader sense. On the one hand, it is about the fear of crime, of the strange and unfamiliar, and on the other hand, it is about security, which is to be ensured by the police, the courts, the state as institutions and the law as the normative basis of these institutions. At the same time, however, it is precisely these institutions that can give rise to feelings of insecurity: Fear of persecution and discrimination along characteristics such as gender, ag, ethnicity or economic power.

Research suggests that these very characteristics play a crucial role in access to justice. When fears spread about the provision of security of care, a security of care that in modern states is supposed to be provided or at least checked by institutions, access to and understanding of justice is a crucial moderating variable.

The track will address, among others, sociology of crime and criminal law, security architectures, discourses on corruption, tax justice, digital security, changes in framework conditions such as in the current pandemic situation or migration issues.

Contributions and recommendations for the design of the track are welcome.