Professor João Velloso creates new forum to study legal responses to social problems

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Social conflicts

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

Joao Velloso, Working group to study the judicialization of social problems
The ways in which contemporary democracies address social problems through courts is changing. While criminalization is still the primary way that legal institutions address problematic social conflicts, many scholars are now emphasizing the need to look beyond criminal law, pointing to alternative ways that law can be and is being mobilized to govern social problems.

Professor João Velloso has created a new working group to study the Judicialization of Social Problems. The working group is housed within the Research Committee on Sociology of Law (RCSL), which is part of the International Sociological Association (ISA). Professor Velloso’s goal is to create a long-term academic forum that will bring together scholars from different nationalities and disciplinary backgrounds to explore the practices of legal institutions around the world that contribute to the judicialization of social problems and the governance of security. 

“Social problems are legally addressed in countless ways across the globe,” writes Professor Velloso, “and we believe that we still have a lot to learn with each other. In this sense, openness to interdisciplinary, jurisdictional, and regional diversity, and comparative perspectives are fundamental aspects of this collective enterprise of understanding and nuancing judicialization of social problems, the sociolegal strategies involved in such processes, the role of actors and their institutional practices.” In creating a space where different scholars can come together to share their perspectives, Professor Velloso hopes to develop a better understanding of how law is being mobilized to govern social problems, the dynamics of access to justice and the forms of resistance to old and new social control projects.

The new working group was born out of previous panels and workshops on the judicialization of social problems organized by Professor Velloso and Professor Vivian Paes of the Universidade Federal Fluminense (Brazil), which took place at the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology in 2018, the prestigious Workshop at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law (IISJ) in 2019, and the IV ISA Forum of Sociology in 2021.  This new working group is the culmination of extensive planning, networking and internationalization that Professor Velloso has been undertaking since 2017.

The RCSL is the oldest and most international law and society academic association in the world. The Committee created and governs the Oñati IISJ alongside the Basque Government, and co-organizes global meetings with the ISA and with the US-based Law and Society Association, including this year’s Global Meeting on Law and Society, which will take place in Lisbon in July, and which will feature three panels organized by Professor Velloso’s new working group.

More information on the Working Group on Judicialization of Social Problems is available here.

Congratulations to Professor Velloso on this exceptional achievement!