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The Cambridge Socio-Legal Group is an interdisciplinary discussion forum promoting debate on topical socio-legal issues and empirical research methodology. It is affiliated with several departments across the University, including the Faculty of Law, the Institute of Criminology, the Centre for Family Research and Physiology, Development & Neuroscience (PDN). The Group serves to bring together people from within Cambridge and farther afield from different disciplines, including Law, Criminology, POLIS, Sociology, Psychology, Psychiatry, PDN, Biology, Economics, History and Social Anthropology. The Socio-Legal Group provides a focus for those in the University and beyond who are engaged in socio-legal research and supports collaborative, inter-disciplinary work through its various activities, in particular its workshop and book projects.

Symposia and Book Projects

The Group is best known outside Cambridge for its successful series of book projects, which have covered a wide range of issues. These projects are enhanced by contributors and other discussants coming together in a residential seminar across several days to discuss work in progress, providing participants with the benefit of insights from each others’ research. Past projects include:

  • What is a Parent? A Socio-Legal Analysis (1999) edited by Andrew Bainham, Shelley Day Sclater and Martin Richards, concerned with legal and social conceptions of parenthood and resulted in publication of the book.
  • Body Lore and Laws (2002) edited by Andrew Bainham, Shelly Day Sclater and Martin Richards, on law and the human body.
  • Children and their Families: Contact, Rights and Welfare (2003) edited by Andrew Bainham, Bridget Lindley, Martin Richards and Liz Trinder, on contact between parents, children and other family relations.
  • Sexuality Repositioned: Diversity and the Law (2004) edited by Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Loraine Gelsthorpe, Martin Johnson and Andrew Bainham.
  • Kinship Matters (2006) edited by Fatemeh Ebtehaj, Bridget Lindley and Martin Richards, on evolving notions and practices of kinship in contemporary Britain and the interrelationship of kinship, law and social policy.
  • Death Rites and Rights (2007) edited by Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Fatemeh Ebtehaj, Jonathan Herring, Martin Johnson and Martin Richards, examining the ways in which death is experienced in various aspects of modern society.
  • Regulating autonomy: sex, reproduction and families (2009) edited by Fatemeh Ebtehaj, Emily Jackson, Martin Richards and Shelley Day Sclater.
  • Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets: An Inter-Disciplinary Study (2009) edited by Joanna Miles and Rebecca Probert
  • Birth Rites and Rights (2011) edited by Fatemah Ebtehaj, Jonathan Herring, Martin H Johnson and Martin Richards, a multi-disciplinary collection of essays concerned with the varying circumstances, manner, timing and experiences of birth.
  • Intoxication and Society (2012) edited by Jonathan Herring, Ciaran Regan, Darin Weinberg and Phil Withington, a study of the problematic pleasures of drugs and alcohol.
  • Marriage Rites and Rights (2015) edited by Joanna Miles, Perveez Mody and Rebecca Probert, examines the rites and rights associated with contemporary marriage practices in Britain from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives.

The next project will consider the theme of Care.

Methodology seminar

The lunchtime methodology seminar series is held termly in the Faculty of Law with guest speakers from Cambridge and beyond. The seminars, convened by Amy Ludlow and Alysia Blackham, are open to anyone – from any discipline – interested in socio-legal research.

Occasional Seminars and Lectures

The Group also holds occasional seminars and lectures by visiting speakers on various substantive topics. Recent events have covered a wide range of issues from family breakdown and co-parenting, criminalisation of HIV transmission, use of forensic science in criminal proceedings, asylum-seekers, health and reproduction, and employment issues.

For further information or to be added to our mailing list, contact:

Current chair of the Socio-Legal Group: Ms Jo Miles (Senior University Lecturer in Law, Faculty of Law): sociolegal@law.cam.ac.uk