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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Mobilising European Law (LAWS11483)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course offers comparative insights into EU law and the ECHR system, introducing examples from the US history of public interest lawyering. It aims to equip students with the theoretical and methodological toolbox of socio-legal research. Students will engage in discussions on the theory and practice of legal mobilisation in Europe and will analyse landmark examples in the area. Thanks to the involvement of an expert and a practitioner, students will be exposed to different approaches and address the topic from a theoretical, practical and comparative angle.
Course description
From women¿s and LGBTQI* rights to disability rights, from environmental protection to education and housing, many social justice battles have been and continue to be fought in courts. This course explores how the construction of European law has been a story of legal mobilisation. It investigates how European law is ¿mobilised¿ when the ¿desire or want¿ of legal entrepreneurs ¿is translated into a demand as an assertion of one's rights¿ (Zemans, 1983).

Taking a step back from traditional ¿law in the books¿ approaches, students will revisit the construction of European law from a ¿law in action¿ perspective and interrogate the ¿making¿ of key areas of European law. They will examine the relationship between law, social change and social justice through key questions: Who are the actors that utilize legal avenues strategically to advance social causes and trigger societal reform (civil society, interest groups, legal professionals, etc.)? What are the interests and strategies behind the construction of key European law cases, legislation and policies? What legal opportunities and context condition the success or failure of the mobilisation of European law?

Learning objectives
On completion of this course, students will be able to:
¿ Critically analyse the relationship between law, social change and social justice;
¿ Recognise, research and explain legal mobilisation strategies behind European case law, legislation and policies in key areas including equality and non-discrimination law, migration law, consumer protection, environmental protection¿;
¿ Read and analyse European case law, legislation and policies through the lens of key socio-legal theories and notions including:
o Concepts such as framing, cause lawyering, social change, public interest lawyering, social movements, legal and rights consciousness;
o Types of legal mobilisation in Europe and the role of legal opportunities in defining avenues and strategies;
o Actors of legal mobilisation in Europe, their interests and agenda: national institutions, private organisations, NGOs, CSOs; law firms and EU organs;
¿ Conduct socio-legal research and apply socio-legal research methodologies to effectively construct, articulate, present and defend elaborate legal arguments both orally and in writing;
¿ Strengthen reading, research and writing skills, synthesise and construct legal arguments from a wide range of interdisciplinary sources and effectively work with peers.

Course rationale
The course responds to a growing interest in the research community and draws from an expanding body of literature shedding light on the conditions in which European law is ¿manufactured¿ (Nicola and Davies, 2017). This course flips mainstream perspectives on European law and proposes to study European law ¿in the making¿ and from an interdisciplinary standpoint, integrating research from political sciences, sociology and legal history. The novelty, originality and practical dimension of this course is that it tackles various ¿traditional¿ European law subjects such as equality, consumer protection, migration and environmental protection but displaces the lens of inquiry onto the actors, strategies, conditions and context behind the key decisions and legislation that ¿made¿ European law in each area.

While focusing on EU law, the course also offers comparative insights into the ECHR system and introduces examples from the US history of public interest lawyering. This comparative approach serves to illustrate how the idiosyncratic organisational and procedural rules of EU law translate into opportunities and constrains for ¿law for social change¿ endeavours. In parallel, the course aims to equip students with the theoretical and methodological toolbox of socio-legal research. Students will engage in discussions on the theory and practice of legal mobilisation in Europe and will analyse landmark examples in the area. Thanks to the involvement of two guest lecturers ¿ an academic expert and a legal practitioner ¿ students will be exposed to different approaches and address the topic from a theoretical, practical and comparative angle.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have acquired an understanding of the various concepts relevant to legal mobilisation (framing, cause lawyering, social change, public interest lawyering, social movements, legal and rights consciousness¿).
  2. Understand and have acquired knowledge of the history, the evolution, the main instruments and arenas of the mobilisation of European law;
  3. Be able to critically read, analyse and question materials in European law through the legal mobilisation lens, and relate them with current ¿law and society¿ scholarly discussions and theoretical debates;
  4. Be able to present a coherent and elaborate argument both orally and in writing;
  5. Have gained transversal critical analytical and thinking skills as well as key communication skills
Reading List
¿ Alter, K. J., and Meunier-Aitsahalia, S. "Judicial politics in the European Community: European integration and the pathbreaking Cassis de Dijon decision." Comparative Political Studies 26.4 (1994): 535-561.
¿ Alter, K. J., and Vargas, J. "Explaining variation in the use of European litigation strategies: European Community law and British gender equality policy." Comparative Political Studies 33.4 (2000): 452-482.
¿ Bell, D., 1976. Serving two masters: integration ideals and client interests in school desegregation litigation. Yale Law Journal, 85, pp.470¿516.
¿ Benford R. D. and Snow D. A., 'Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment' (2000) 26 Annual Review of Sociology 611.
¿ Buchanan, R. & Trubek, L. G., 1992. Resistances and possibilities: a critical and practical look at public interest lawyering. New York University Review of Law & Social Change, 19(4), p.719.
¿ Burstein P, 'Legal Mobilization as a Social Movement Tactic: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity' (1991) 96 American Journal of Sociology 1201.
¿ Cichowski, R. The European court and civil society: litigation, mobilization and governance. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
¿ Cichowski R, 'Civil Society and the European Court of Human Rights' in Christoffersen J and Madsen MR (eds), The European Court of Human Rights between Law and Politics (Oxford University Press 2011).
¿ Conant, L. et al., 2018. Mobilizing European law. Journal of European Public Policy, 25(9), pp.1376-1389.
¿ Cummings S, 'Privatizing Public Interest Law' (2012) 25 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics.
¿ Cummings S, 'Law and Social Movements: an Interdisciplinary Analysis' in Roggeband C and Klandermans B (eds), Handbook of social movements across disciplines (Springer International Publishing 2017).
¿ Dezalay, Yves, and Bryant G. Garth, eds. Global prescriptions: the production, exportation, and importation of a new legal orthodoxy. University of Michigan Press, 2002.
¿ Evans Case R and Givens TE, 'Re-Engineering Legal Opportunity Structures in the European Union? The Starting Line Group and the Politics of the Racial Equality Directive' (2010) 48 Journal of Common Market Studies 221.
¿ Galanter M, 'Why the "Haves" Come out Ahead: Speculations on the Limits of Legal Change' (1974) 9 Law & Society Review 95.
¿ Garth BG and Sarat A, 'Studying how law matters: an Introduction' in Garth BG and Sarat A (eds), How does law matter? (Northwestern University Press 1998).
¿ Granovetter MS, 'The Strength of Weak Ties' (1973) 78 American Journal of Sociology 1360.
¿ Haas PM, 'Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination' (1992) 46 International Organization 1.
¿ Hilbink, T. ¿You Know the Type...: Categories of Cause Lawyering.¿ Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 29, no. 3, 2004, pp. 657¿698.
¿ Hilson C, 'New Social Movements: the Role of Legal Opportunity' (2002) 9 Journal of European Public Policy 238.
¿ Keck ME and Sikkink K, Activists beyond borders: advocacy networks in international politics (Cornell University Press 1998).
¿ Muir et al, 2017. How EU law shapes opportunities for preliminary references on fundamental rights: discrimination, data protection and asylum. EUI Working Paper 2017/17.
¿ Nicola, F. & Davies, B., 2017. EU law stories: contextual and critical histories of European jurisprudence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
¿ Passalacqua, Virginia. "Legal mobilization via preliminary reference: Insights from the case of migrant rights." Common Market Law Review 58.3 (2021).
¿ Pavone, T., 2019. From Marx to Market: Lawyers, European Law, and the Contentious Transformation of the Port of Genoa. Law & Society Review, 53(3), pp.851¿888.
¿ Pavone, T., "The Ghostwriters: Lawyers and the Politics Behind the Judicial Construction of Europe." (2019).
¿ Rasmussen, Morten. "Revolutionizing European law: A history of the Van Gend en Loos judgment." International Journal of Constitutional Law 12.1 (2014): 136-163.
¿ Scheingold, Stuart, and Austin Sarat. Something to believe in: Politics, professionalism, and cause lawyering. Stanford University Press, 2004.
¿ Sarat, Austin, and Stuart A. Scheingold. Cause lawyers and social movements. Stanford University Press, 2006.
¿ Snow DA and others, 'Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movement Participation' (1986) 51 American Sociological Review 464.
¿ Vanhala, Lisa. Making rights a reality?: Disability rights activists and legal mobilization. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
¿ Vanhala, Lisa. "Legal opportunity structures and the paradox of legal mobilization by the environmental movement in the UK." Law & Society Review 46.3 (2012): 523-556.
¿ Vauchez, A. (2008). The force of a weak field: law and lawyers in the government of the European Union (for a renewed research agenda). International Political Sociology, 2(2), 128-144.
¿ Vauchez, Antoine. "The transnational politics of judicialization. Van Gend en Loos and the making of EU polity." European Law Journal 16.1 (2010): 1-28.
¿ Zemans, F., 1983. Legal Mobilization: The Neglected Role of the Law in the Political System. The American Political Science Review (1927), 77(3), pp.690¿703.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Apply socio-legal research methodologies to the analysis of European law; in particular, apply acquired knowledge, concepts, theories and research and methodological skills in practical contexts related to legal mobilisation and analyse concrete examples.
2. Find, organise and use factual and theoretical information in problem solving; in particular apply abstract concepts and theories to analyse concrete problems and conceptualise sets of facts using analytical toolbox acquired; use theoretical and methodological toolbox to develop original and creative responses to concrete socio-legal problems.
3. Effectively structure, formulate and communicate arguments using a wide range of routine writing, oral and presentation skills and some advanced and specialised skills associated with socio-legal research, and using ICT applications to support and enhance the work produced.
4. Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative and independence in carrying out defined activities at a professional level in practice related to socio-legal research; effectively work in peer relationship and take responsibility for own and group work.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMs Raphaele Xenidis
Tel: (0131 6) 50 2385
Course secretaryMiss Chloe Culross
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