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Sociology and international law: some historical connections

Wickham, G. (2009) Sociology and international law: some historical connections. In: The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2009 Conference, 1 - 4 December, Canberra, Australia



Sociology and international law are closely related. Both fields were formalised as disciplines in the second half of the nineteenth century, though this is not the source of their closeness. Rather, they are closely related because of their joint reliance on the notion of the social. Both made much use of an organic-communitarian understanding of the social and in both a counter-current arose against this direction, around a distinctly politico-legal understanding. In building its organic-communitarian tradition, international law actually borrowed heavily from the sociological discourses of the time, particularly from the work of Durkheim. The borrowings concerning the politico-legal tradition, however, ran the other way, with sociology borrowing from those public law discourses about sovereignty that informed most discourses of international law. The paper sketches the main method involved, sets out each of the two aforementioned rival understandings of the social, discusses international law’s use of the organic-communitarian understanding, and discusses sociology’s borrowing from public law in deploying a politico-legal understanding through the notion of sovereignty.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Copyright: © Copyright remains with the authors
Notes: In: S. Lockie et al. (eds) The Future of Sociology. Canberra: Australian National University and The Australian Sociological Association
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