Call for papers: Stanford Law School Conference for Junior Researchers

Stanford Program in Law and Society

Inaugural Conference for Junior Researchers
Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA
May 16 – 17, 2014

On Law and (In)formality

Call for Papers


The Stanford Program in Law and Society (SPLS) at Stanford Law School is pleased to announce its Inaugural Conference for Junior Researchers. As there are limited opportunities for the international community of aspiring scholars to meet and discuss their current projects on law and society, this conference is intended to provide a forum specially designed for junior researchers to share their work in progress, receive input from faculty and other participants, and develop professional skills through a series of workshops.

Conference theme

The Inaugural Conference for Junior Researchers invites papers from junior researchers (graduate students, post-graduate students, post-doctoral researchers as well as recent graduates from law schools and social science departments) that explore the limits of law and the legal system. How does society function where there is a lack of formal legal structure, where order may be maintained through social norms, customs, or other informal rules of behavior? How is society governed when laws are not enforced, or when actors (state or citizens) operate outside of the law, resorting to extralegal options to achieve social order? What is the connection between law and informality? And somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum, what happens at the blurred edges or limits of law? In other words, we seek to investigate if, when, and why law matters.

Law and society research has always been concerned with the limits of legal structures governing a particular society. This line of research has illuminated situations where the formal legal system doesn’t necessarily govern human behavior. It may refer to spaces in society where there is a lack of public or private enforcement of formal legal rules. It may also refer to situations where social or cultural norms, rather than formal legal ones, provide social order. Or it may indicate areas where chaos or violence is the pattern defining a particular social system. Other definitions of the term may be imagined, which indicates that this is a broad and ongoing research agenda.

The conference invites junior researchers to submit research papers that analyze, discuss, or reflect on the abovementioned themes. As this is an interdisciplinary conference, empirical research projects from all social sciences are encouraged.

Details about the conference

The two-day conference will combine panel discussions, workshops, and an internationally renowned keynote speaker. Participants will have opportunities to share their work, receive feedback from faculty and other participants, develop their professional skills, and network with other junior researchers.

Submissions and selection process

Junior researchers are invited to submit an abstract of between 350 and 400 words, together with their CV. All abstracts and CVs should be submitted to by January 20, 2014. Conference participants will be selected by a panel based on the quality of their proposals. All applicants will be informed by email of the decision by February 3, 2014. All selected participants must submit their final paper by April 14, 2014 so that it can be shared with other members of their panel and their discussant for feedback. The final papers should be between 10,000 and 15,000 words (including footnotes). Papers should be an unpublished work in progress. We welcome papers that have been accepted for publication, as long as they are not yet published and the author still has the opportunity to incorporate feedback from this conference.

Financial aid

Limited financial assistance to cover travel expenses will be available to some participants. Only participants from outside the San Francisco Bay area are eligible to receive such assistance, and only in those cases where they do not receive funding from their own institutions. Together with the notification of acceptance, selected participants will receive a financial aid request form. Participants will have to submit such form in order to be considered for the limited financial assistance.


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For further information on the Inaugural Conference for Junior Researchers and on the Stanford Program in Law and Society visit:

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