This chapter on the sociology of legal culture asks what the term is good for and what part it plays and could play- in socio-legal research. It surveys research that uses the term, focusing on differences between using it to describe a set of facts, as an approach sociology of law, and as an aspiration to a value - that of the culture of legality.As a set of facts, it is important to decide what units we are talking about, and what, if anything, gives them their coherence; as an approach, to distinguish between explanation and interpretation, and their appropriate logics and methods; and as a value to see what hidden cultural assumptions may be guiding our preferences, for example in encouraging state-based versus alternative forms of ordering whether at home and abroad.
David Nelken and Mathias Siems
The chapter aims to show why the uses and abuses of global social indicators is a topic well suited to research guided by the new legal realism. Social indicators are ubiquitous as a form of social intervention designed to measure and monitor a variety of key social issues – whether it be levels of business friendliness, corruption or human trafficking, respect for the rule of law and free speech, or compliance with codes of corporate responsibility. But indicators do not only provide information, they also exert authority and so need to be better understood as an example of the normative uses of quantification. The chapter first defines indicators, distinguishes kinds of indicators, relates them to other kinds of normative regulation and discusses how they are used. It then examines what abuse of indicators could mean, highlights the many problems with making, implementing and interpreting them, and revisits what are called their knowledge and governance “effects”. It concludes by considering the possibilities for re-forming indicators by drawing on resources from the market, science, politics and law.