A History of the JLS: 1995 – 2021

The story of the Journal of Law and Society is closely linked with that of socio-legal studies in the UK. Professor Philip A Thomas, the Editor of the Journal from its inception in 1974, notes that both the Journal of Law and Society and the discipline of socio-legal studies, “were both formed at the same time as a spontaneous alternative to the Law School establishment, its pedagogy and its ideology,” which remains reflected within the Journal.

The desire for fresh, clear, challenging, and engaging material is evident throughout the Journal’s history with a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to both the ideas and issues of the moment alongside emerging issues. The Journal is run as a collective, with decisions based on consensus, fostering a sense of connectivity and collegiality amongst the members of the editorial board. The Editorial Board declares its independence and editorial strength through working closely with the impressive advisory board comprised of experts in their respective fields.  The Journal has commenced with two issues in 1974 but now has quarterly issues with additional Special Issues discussing topics such as the intersections of law, science, technology and science; economic globalization and ecological localization; and the reconceptualization of regulation in the era of globalization. These Special Issues were typically the first issue published each year with additional Special Issues published sporadically. Recently, the Special Issues have been replaced by in-house Special Supplements based on work coming out of the Centre for Socio Legal Studies, Cardiff Law School. The Journal has been at the forefront of socio-legal thought for decades with a noticeable shift to a more interdisciplinary focus, critically examining the intersectional relationship between academic disciplines.

2021 marked the forty seventh anniversary of the Journal of Law and Society (previously titled the British Journal of Law and Society until 1982), and in this year, board member Dr Shane Burke undertook the task of consolidating the last 25 years of the JLS’ rich history into a single document, which is provided here for all to read.

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