Transnational Legal Processes and the (Re)construction of the ‘Social’: The Case of Human Trafficking

  • David Nelken
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)


One way to think about the changing meaning of the ‘social’ in socio-legal studies is to ask whether our field is too bound to a state-centred focus with its associated ‘methodological nationalism’ (Beck, 2005). This was certainly one of the challenges laid down in the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) workshop on which this book is based. Contributors were asked to re-examine (inter alia) whether ‘developments in late modernity, such as consumerism, globalization, or neo-liberalism, pose fresh challenges that the “socio” must address?’ and ‘how, if at all, do themes abounding the “socio” in early twenty-first-century scholarship, such as terrorism or security, create opportunities for new perspectives on the “legal”?’ (SLSA, 2010). Similar issues were raised in the call for participation for the US Law and Society Association (LSA) annual conference in San Francisco in 2011. This explained that: ‘Law and society scholars … were now facing a whole new set of border crossings, blurring boundaries, empirical challenges, and conceptual conundra.’ (LSA, 2011) Of particular relevance to the present chapter, the programme call went on to explain that:

political and legal responses to human migration have broken down lines between immigration law, economic regulation, and criminal justice in complex and often troubling ways… [and that] boundary dissolutions, notions about citizenship, sovereignty, illegality and rights (to name but a few) have all been complicated, challenging a number of long standing assumptions underlying legal scholarship concerned with law’s relevance in shaping our global future.


Human Trafficking International Labour Organization Organize Criminal Transitional Justice Trafficking Victim 
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© David Nelken 2013

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  • David Nelken

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