The Research Committee on Sociology of Law (RCSL) is a Research Committee of the International Sociological Assocation (ISA). See the page dedicated to RC12 Sociology of Law on the ISA official website.

For a general introduction to RCSL, see the poster produced by Ulrike Schultz, President of RCSL, at the occasion of the 2022 Lisbon Global Meeting on Law and Society, July 2022

A Short Introduction to RCSL by Johannes Feest, at the occasion of the 40th anniversary of RCSL, Newsletter summer 2002)

“The RCSL was established as a Research Committee of the International Sociological Association in 1962 [more on its 50 anniversary, 2012, on this site] at the initiative of William M. Evan (University of Pennsylvania) and Adam Podgòrecki (University of Warsaw), with the support of Renato Treves (University of Milan) during the Congress of the International Sociological Association, held in Washington D.C. Treves himself was elected as the first president, with Podgòrecki as vice-president and Evan as secretary. Its first discussions at the Washington congress dealt with “Scope and Methods of the Sociology of Law”.

The RCSL was initially conceived as a forum, largely informal, for specialists from all over the world to compare and exchange ideas. A Board was constituted in 1968. Formal by-Iaws were adopted in 1973. Regular elections have been organized every fourth year since 1974. The RCSL has also held regular annual meetings since 1964 (except in 1967). Every four years it meets during the congress of the ISA. It has held also several joint meetings with the Law and Society Association. Since the late sixties, it has established various permanent working groups as a means to promote its research activity more vigorously. Its membership has grown from about two dozen scholars in 1962 to more than 450 in 2002. On December 23, 1988, the RCSL signed an agreement with the government of the Basque Country, giving birth to the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law.”


For more details about RCSL, see 30 Years for the Sociology of Law, Oñati, IISL, 1991. For a comprehensive assessment of socio-legal scholarship around the world, carried out by the RCSL throughout several annual meetings in the late eighties, see Vincenzo Ferrari (dir.), Developing Sociology of Law. A World-Wide Documentary Enquiry, Milano, Giuffré, 1990

Current President and Board (on a separate page)

Past-Presidents (in chronological order):                 

Renato Treves (Italy; 1962-1974)
Jan Glastra Van Loon (the Netherlands; 1974-1980*)
Jean van Houtte* (Belgium; 1980*-1990)
Vicenzo Ferrari (Italy; 1990-1994)
Mavis Maclean (Oxford, UK; 1994-1997)
Rogelio Perez Perdomo (IESA, Caracas, Venezuela; 1997-2000)
Johannes Feest (Bremen, Germany; 2000-2003)
Lawrence Friedman (Stanford, USA; 2003-2006)
Anne Boigeol (Paris, France; 2006-2010)
Vittorio Olgiati (Italy; 2010-2014)
Masayuki Murayama (Japan; 2014-2018)
Ulrike Schultz (Germany; 2018-2023)

*Jan Glastra Van Loon had his formal term from 1974 to 1982. But he resigned in 1980 and Jean Van Houtte, Secretary General at that time, served as Acting President until 1982, when he was formally elected to be the President.

Founding Members: 
William M. EvanAdam Podgòrecki

Those Who Made and Developed the RCSL

The RCSL pays tribute on this site to those who gave a decisive contribution to its activities and to the development of sociology of law:
see section “Those Who Made the RCSL“.

RCSL Webpage on the ISA-Website:

Information about RCSL is also to be found on the RCSL section of the official website of ISA.


Several papers about the history of RCSL are to be found in the special issue of Societas / Communitas (Semi-Annual Journal of the Institute of Applied Social Sciences, University of Warsaw) 1 (15) 2013, Sociology of Law III: History and Development, edited by Vittorio Olgiatti and Jacek Kurczewski.

See in particular pp. 29-45, Vittorio Olgiati, “The Rise of the I.S.A. Research Committee on Sociology of Law”.

About the history of RCSL, see also History of the RCSL Published in ISA Bulletin number 44, year 1987, prepared by Kurt Jonassohn ISA Executive Secretary 1974-1982, available on the official ISA-Website.

See also the RCSL Discussion Group on Facebook !

This page last updated 3 November 2023