School of Law

Systems Theory Workshop: Socio-legal conversations across systems in a world in crisis

7 September 2012

Time: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Venue: Council (Colette Bowe and Martin Harris) Room, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London

Organised by Professor David Schiff and Professor Richard Nobles.

Outline of theme:

This workshop will discuss a number of papers considering what systems theory brings to talk of crisis. The instabilities, both within systems, and in the relationships between systems, are commonly communicated about in terms of crisis (such as financial crisis, environmental crisis, constitutional crisis, moral crisis). In many examples of communications about crisis legal questions are significantly implicated. For example, the mass media periodically communicate about crisis in relation to the legal system through dissemination in articles discussing ‘a political crisis’, ‘a crisis in criminal justice’, ‘an economic crisis’, etc. The subject of crisis has recently been considered in essays, especially in relation to the current ‘financial crisis’ in Kjaer, Teubner and Febbrajo (eds) The Financial Crisis in Constitutional Perspective (Hart Publishing, 2011). 

The focus of the papers in this workshop will be on law’s contribution to both the creation and diffusion of different communications about crisis. Systems theory, through its concepts of closure and structural coupling, provides means to examine law’s ability both to stabilise and de-stabilise other social systems, both to engender and displace other system’s communications about crisis. 

It is hoped that this workshop will be a precursor to a systems theory stream at the Law and Society Association Annual meeting in Boston in June 2013, and the closer collaboration of those who engage in research concerning law involving some element of systems theoretical perspective.