chapter  1
6 Pages

Socio-legal theory and methods

3Introduction
WithNaomi Creutzfeldt, Marc Mason, Kirsten McConnachie

We are delighted to present the first Routledge Handbook of Socio-Legal Theory and Methods, a collection that showcases the breadth of work animating contemporary socio-legal studies. Socio-legal studies has had an enormous influence on legal scholarship, challenging assumptions about (inter alia): the nature of law, rules and legal thought; the relationship between law and ethics, morality and religion; law, government and governance; and law and community; and providing an understanding of the meaning of legal culture and legal consciousness. In addressing these issues, socio-legal scholars have established conversations and collaborations across multiple disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, geography, politics, international relations, cultural studies, economics, philosophy and more. This work has been paradigm-shifting for many of us as individuals but has also transformed the realms of legal education and practice. A positivistic ‘black-letter’ approach to law is no longer the only or even dominant paradigm of legal education. It is fundamentally challenged by the growing number of law schools that offer a socio-legal approach to the study of law, in recognition of the importance of understanding the context of law, and the need to provide future practitioners, policymakers and researchers with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to understand the world in which they will operate.