The Law and Unintended Consequences

Phil Thomas
Richard Craven

In this theme, we provide a modern take on the idea of “unintended consequences”; a term often associated with the American sociologist, Robert K. Merton and subsequently applied by Gusfield in "Symbolic Crusade".

Today it is usual that before introducing a new law, legal rules are put through rigorous examination, e.g. consultations and expert committees etc. Lawmakers expect to be prepared for side effects, even negative side effects, resulting from legal intervention. A cost-benefit decision may have been made and any negative effects are deemed justified in view of the attainment of a main goal. However, law-making is not an exact science, it concerns people, and people are unpredictable. As such, things do not always turn out as one expects: there are instances where law has unintended or unanticipated consequences. These come in many forms, including the trivial and the quirky, and instances where the unintended consequences defeat the intended objectives of a law. This is the focus of the stream.

Papers are invited from speakers in any area of legal or social science scholarship, UK based or overseas. The convenors particularly welcome interest from PhD students and early career researchers although senior academics are not barred from contributing!

An academic book publisher has been identified and we will be looking for contributions of around 5,000 words with up to 20 papers discussed. Draft papers will be presented at the SLSA conference in Lancaster and they will be finalised by September 2016. Please contact us with your proposal, albeit sketchy at the moment, in order that we can begin to build both a stream and the potential book chapters/contributions.

Abstracts may only be submitted via the Easy Chair Platform. They must be no longer than 300 words and should include your title, name and institutional affiliation and your email address for correspondence.

The deadline for submissions is 6pm Monday 14th March.