Editors’ Note

Law & Society Review, December 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Editors’ Note


A hallmark of sociolegal work has been assessing how actors anticipate what legal officials might do and how multiple officials work with law across settings. People strategize or change tactics where they can, find alternative venues for disputes, and draw upon cultural meanings when caught in legal tangles.

The articles in this issue take insights from sociolegal studies to interpret encounters with legal officials and to examine the framing of key problems as legal issues. The range of topics and methodologies is wide, but all of the authors engage with encounters between legal processes, administrative practices, and normative systems.

The article by Anette Bringedal Houge and Kjersti Lohne takes up the topic of conflict-related sexual violence and the criminal law fight against impunity. The authors examine central imageries of victims and perpetrators across interstate diplomacy and human rights advocacy to argue that such framing narrows and contains political maneuverability in the face of the harms of this sexual violence.

Florian Grisel's contribution proposes an alternative narrative of globalization in commercial arbitration. Grisel revisits the sociology of international commercial arbitration, arguing that a critical transformative period for international commercial arbitration took place between the 1950s and 1970s, when a group of individuals, "secant marginals," emerged as leading arbitrators at the International Chamber of Commerce. The cooperative (rather than competitive) interface that resulted created the conditions necessary for the emergence of a new transnational legal profession.

The study of legal pluralism has long raised questions about where and how different legal systems protect people: customary law can promise connection to community but that can obscure problems for individuals. Even different historical legacies can lead to similar issues, as Janine Ubink and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks demonstrate in their analysis of how traditional courts dispense justice in Malawi and South Africa. …

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