Historical Social Research 49 (2024), 2

Titel der Ausgabe 
Historical Social Research 49 (2024), 2
Weiterer Titel 
Law and (De)Civilization

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GESIS – Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Historical Social Research (HSR)
Unter Sachsenhausen 6-8
Journal Historical Social Research
Philip Jost Janssen, Knowledge Exchange & Outreach, GESIS - Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften

Special Issue
Law and (De)Civilization: Process-Sociological Perspectives on Law in Social Change (ed. Marta Bucholc, Hugo Canihac, Florence Delmotte & Robert van Krieken)

In Western intellectual history, the alleged connection between law and civilization has not only been central to the construction of national “states of law”, or of a European legal order; it has further been a crucial underpinning of Western international “mission” through the promotion of the rule of law and of related concepts of rights and constitutionalism. However, evidence now abounds for the reversal of civilizing tendencies in societies thus far seemingly progressing towards more regulation, pacification and international interdependencies, which have been displaying a variety of de-civilizing trends, including a rise in violence against minorities, police brutality, hostility to strangers and general insecurity. While some of these phenomena are related to failures of the legal order, in many cases law is in fact instrumental in their facilitation. Likewise, supranational legal norms and rights sometimes go hand in hand with a more brutal “decivilizing mission”. Today, then, there are times and societies in which law appears to be playing a central role in processes of decivilization as well as civilization.

An invaluable, and yet little tapped into, resource for understanding the relationships between civilization and decivilization, and the role of law in those relationships, is Norbert Elias’s concept of the co-existence of civilization as an internal pacification of society resulting from increasing complexity and strength of internal interdependencies between social actors, and decivilization resulting from the breakdown, reversal or contradictory operation of processes of civilization. Elias himself emphasizes the extent to which law is bound up with the extra-legal modes of social ordering taking place in the process of civilization, but an important development of his work is the related point that the same is true of the ways in which processes of decivilization are interwoven with legal processes and institutions. This special issue features a selection of ground-breaking research projects that draw attention to these developments and what they mean for theorization in law and society research more broadly.


Marta Bucholc, Hugo Canihac, Florence Delmotte & Robert van Krieken
Law and (De)Civilization. An Introduction.

Chris Thornhill
Constitutional Law and Cultures of Violence.

Robert van Krieken
Welfare or Cultural Genocide? Law, Civilization, Decivilization, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in Australia.

Aurélie Lacassagne
A Legal Decivilizing Process: Canada’s Indigenous Policies and Legislation.

Alon Helled
Sovereignty and (De)Civilizing Processes in the Israeli Habitus between Revolution and Counterrevolution: A Three-Act Story?

Marta Bucholc
Legal Governance of Abortion: Interdependencies and Centrifugal Forces in the Global Figuration of Human Rights.

Michal Kaczmarczyk
Civil(-izing) Disobedience: Four Traditions of Examined Contestation.

Christophe Granger
Rule Matters: On Sport, Violence, and the Law.

Hugo Canihac
The Law against the Rule? Ambivalence, Ambiguity, and the Historical Sociology of European Legal Integration.

Christophe Majastre
Constituent Politics and the Force of Law. Assessing the Role of Constitutional Discourse in the Debate around EU Legitimacy from a Historical Sociology Perspective.

Lola Avril
“Civilizing” Professionals? Competition Lawyers in the European Integration Process.

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