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This conference will provide a forum for presentations and discussion on the place, significance, and further potential of epistemology within socio-legal studies.

There has been little exploration of epistemology in legal scholarship generally, including in journal and book publications – with some notable exceptions. There are infrequent and sporadic references to epistemology in socio-legal studies.

Epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerned with what is knowledge and how it is accessed (which includes, typically, topics such as fact, truth, evidence, justification, and memory) might seem, to some, removed from the social concerns of socio-legal studies. Such a view is misplaced: epistemology deserves greater attention in the field.

There remains a need for socio-legal counterpoints to traditional formalist accounts of law that eschew the social dimensions of knowledge. Recent political shifts globally underline the importance of analysing epistemology with especial reference to race, class and other historically subordinated or vulnerable epistemic communities.

The conference will seek to address a range of questions/issues, including:

  • How has epistemology informed legal studies?
  • How might diverse approaches to epistemology be understood collectively in relation to their contribution to socio-legal studies?
  • What continuing relevance, if any, can epistemology have for socio-legal studies?
  • How should the concept of epistemology be understood in respect of, and if necessary distinguished from, broader concepts such as knowledge construction?
  • How specifically can epistemology inform socio-legal theory, methods and praxis?

Abstract guidelines

We welcome all contributors, especially from doctoral, emerging, and early-career scholars, to submit papers for presentation in parallel sessions (estimated: three in number, each comprising three papers). These sessions will seek to build the capacity of doctoral, emerging, and early-career scholars by pairing those scholars with established Chairs and by inviting the day’s invited speakers as discussants to the papers.

Abstract guidelines: up to 300 words. Add title and contact details. Email [email protected] by 26 February 2018.

Programme and booking

Cost: £89 (Full), £35 (Student/Unwaged)
Free for University of Westminster staff and students.

Book your ticket via the Online Store.

Download the final programme and abstracts (PDF).


  • Professor Maria Drakopoulou, University of Kent
  • Professor Peter Goodrich, Cardozo Law School
  • Professor Geoffrey Samuel, University of Kent
  • Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, University of Coimbra


The Westminster Law and Theory Lab
The Westminster Law and Theory Lab brings together diverse yet overlapping strands in the study of law in its transnational, regional or international manifestation, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity and critical theoretical analysis.

The focus of Lab activities is firmly on the link between the applied and the theoretical. The Lab seeks to facilitate common scholarly activities and projects, thus acting as a bridge between the applied and the theoretical, and providing a supportive context within which radical new research can flourish.

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is a national resource for legal researchers supporting and facilitating research students at universities across the UK and in the University of London.

Academic co-ordinators

  • Dermot Feenan, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
  • Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, University of Westminster