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ECPR Summer School in Methods & Techniques 2020

Theorising Legal Mobilisation

Dagmar Soennecken
York University
Dagmar Soennecken
York University

Do certain advanced industrialized societies provide a more hospitable environment for the legal mobilization of societal actors than others? This paper will investigate the argument that legal challenges by societal groups tend to be less frequent in European neo-corporatist countries (like Germany, France and Sweden) than in pluralist countries (like the U.S.) (Morag-Levine, 2003). Neo-corporatist systems recognize and licenses groups, constructing a "social partnership" between the state and these societal actors (Katzenstein, 1985) not found in pluralist societies. This makes litigation by groups more scarce. By contrast, other scholars have argued recently that an American-style adversarial legalism is sweeping even those countries in Europe traditionally less hospitable to legal mobilization (Kelemen, 2011. The paper will present the first results of preliminary research on Germany. Major historical markers here are German reunification and EU integration. I will examine changing barriers to legal mobilization in the following policy areas: employment, religion and immigration. Trade unions and business associations are at the heart of Germany's neo-coporatist model of governance, also termed "semi-sovereignty" (Katzenstein, 1987). Church organizations have been just as important in linking state and society under this governance model, while immigration is a cross-cutting issue faced by all European societies.
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