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University of Gothenburg

Legal Theory and Philosophy

Legal Theory, as a subject for education and research at the Gothenburg University Department of Law , encompasses theoretical and methodological studies of law and legal systems, as well as the interaction between law, politics, ethics, economics, society and culture.

Questions about legal thinking and its terms, the nature of law and its relationship to other normative systems, and the boundaries of law are central. Such studies can be conducted broadly or coupled to specific areas of law. Examples of questions that are asked are: what is law, how is it used and how is it created, how do we acquire knowledge about the law and on what foundation does it gain its legitimacy? A fundamental question within Legal Theory is what constitutes a source of law, how are the sources of law applied and what authority do they have. Legal argumentation, legal methods as well as the relationship between legal systems and differing legal cultures are also studied within Legal Theory, and includes studied into Legal Philosophy, Legal Theory and Legal History.

Questions of how law relates to politics, morality, society, economics and culture are also central to the subject matter of Legal Theory. The law is interpreted, used and developed by different agents in specific circumstances and what these circumstances look like and what drives the processes of change are central questions. These questions include analyses of power from the perspective of structures and practices pertaining to gender, ethnicity, etc. These studies fall within fields such as Law and Politics, Law and Sociology, Law and Economics and Law and Culture.

Legal education and Legal research in Gothenburg is characterized by the combination of the studies mentioned above with influences from national and international legal research as well as other academic disciplines. Legal Theory includes what is internationally labelled as Jurisprudence, Legal Philosophy, Legal Theory, Critical Legal Theory, Law in Context and Law and Society, which is characterized by a theorization of law by placing it in different contexts and illuminating its relational aspects. Examples of theories that are used and developed in the area are liberal legal theories, critical theories such as feminist, gender and post-colonial theories, theories about law and literature, socio-legal theoretical constructs and social planning theories.

Legal theory as a field of education and research is characterized by academic openness and the challenging of boundaries of how both the law and legal theory can be understood and enacted.