Law and politics in a global society

(A continuation of the research topic Transnational Processes, Legitimacy and Values)

Legal and political communication and institutions have played a key role in providing legitimacy in modern societies, whether in the context of developing common legal norms, making binding collective decisions, resolving conflicts or exercising political power. They have not only formulated and imparted social meaning, values and political power across all sectors of society, they have also been founded on core values related to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, and have thereby been perceived as legitimate.

 In the “classical” period of modernity, legal and political communications and institutions have been closely linked to the framework of the nation state and thereby to a limited historical, social and cultural frame of reference.

Today, legal and political processes are increasingly characterized by inter- and transnational processes, and by the fact that a host of problems must be solved across national borders. As such, legal and political processes and institutions are currently part of comprehensive transformations in society that may be crucial for social integration, confidence, efficiency, the exercise of power and society’s perception of legitimacy. In Kultrans we shall examine not only these issues, but also the overall need for new political and legal theories in the transnational and global community:

  • Over the past 60 or so years, inter-, supra- and transnational processes and institutions have been ever more instrumental in developing law and politics as well as legal and political institutions, both in shaping local and international legal norms and as participants and agenda-setters in political processes. During this period a significant number of international organizations and courts have been created.
  • At the same time, the ever more global economic, technological and cultural developments have not only helped to change the preconditions for the legal and political institutions, they have also added their own global and transnational dynamics, processes and institutions that supplement, transcend and transform the traditional political and legal processes.
  • A further result of the economic and technological development is that many of the actual problems that legal and political processes are meant to help solve are of a transnational character, and must therefore be solved across local and national borders.
  • The universal nature of human rights and today’s opportunities to travel are also part of the reason why fundamental ethical questions about human dignity and justice must be handled through international and transnational processes.
  • Political and legal institutions and decision-making processes must thereby deal with a new form of complexity on many levels, in regard to content, process and legitimacy. The economic, technological and cultural processes of globalization help transform both what are perceived as legitimate and fair norms and political decisions, and what type of fact-finding and decision-making processes are perceived as legitimate. Inter- and transnational decision-making processes must relate to a far more heterogeneous and complex frame of reference, with regard to both actual events and values. There is also an increasing interaction between inter- and transnational processes, and the borders between them are blurred.

New inter-, supra- and transnational institutions and processes are constantly being created, transforming the conditions for law and politics and for how legal and political decisions are perceived. There is therefore an urgent need to analyse the transformations that globalization and new inter- and transnational processes engender. In Kultrans we aim to contribute to this through concrete analyses of various political and legal fields and specific institutions and relations, using methods from the sociology of law, social sciences, philosophy and legal studies.




Leader: Inger-Johanne Sand