Legal Compliance: Founding Elements of a Conception Based on Cultural Theory

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The state of research on legal compliance in socio-legal studies is limited and partially outdated. Like theories on coercion, recognition, or legitimacy, notions around compliance with the law appear plausible in themselves. However, each of them hold only part of the explanation and yet they cannot be reconciled due to theoretical incompatibilities. Legal sociologists therefore speak of a theory gap regarding legal compliance. The following article takes on this research desideratum and attempts to formulate an alternative concept of legal compliance based on an entirely new terminology without, however, completely renouncing the previous findings of legal sociology. Relying on the above-mentioned theory gap alongside the introduction of this new terminology, I argue that it is possible to analyze legal compliance while heuristically integrating all previous theoretical concepts of its. As a starting point, the article draws on Bourdieu's fragmentary sociology of law and, by extending it, proposes a larger practice and field-theory-based interpretation of compliance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Sociology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)105-139
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 08.04.2021

Bibliographical note

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    Research areas

  • Sociology - compliance, cultural theory, cultural sociology, pierre bourdieu, socio-legal Studies