Discussion Law & Society Review at Fifty: A Debate on the Future of Publishing by the Law & Society Association

Published date01 December 2016
Date01 December 2016
Law & Society Review at Fifty: A Debate on the
Future of Publishing by the Law & Society
Joachim J. Savelsberg Terence Halliday
Sida Liu Calvin Morrill
Carroll Seron Susan Silbey
This contribution presents a series of statements on the future of publishing
by the Law & Society Review and the Law & Society Association generally.
Framed by the first author’s introductory and concluding comments are con-
tributions by Halliday, Liu, Morrill, Seron, and Silbey.This debate, based on a
LSR 50th anniversary panel held at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the LSA, is
intended to open up a broader conversation among members of the Associa-
tion. Positions by individual contributors can only be linked to them and not
to the group of contributors.
Introduction to Reflections by Morrill, Liu, Silbey, Halliday,
and Seron
By Joachim J. Savelsberg, Co-Editor, University of Minnesota
The year 2016 witnesses the 50th anniversary of the Law & Socie-
ty Review, and the occasion warrants celebration. Introducing Vol-
ume 50, Timothy Johnson, my co-editor of the past 3 years, and I
used our editorial comments to spell out some of the reasons (John-
son and Savelsberg 2016). They include the massive increase in sub-
missions in recent decades and years to almost one per day by the
early 2010s. Such flow of submissions is indicative of the journal’s
prestige, its recognition as the prime outlet for socio-legal scholar-
ship. Importantly, many of those who submit are young scholars.
Please direct all correspondence to Joachim J. Savelsberg, Department of Sociology,
909 Social Sciences, University of Minnesota, 267 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN
Inclusion of this set of reflections in the LSR did not affect chances of acceptance of
submitted papers. It is justified by the availability of pages after the editorial decision pro-
cess was concluded. It was demanded by the importance of these reflections for the future
of the journal and publishing practice of the Law & Society Association. References for this
introduction and for all five contributions are listed at the end of the collection.
Law & Society Review, Volume 50, Number 4 (2016)
C2016 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.
For them publishing in the LSR is obviously an important step
toward buildinga reputation in the field of socio-legal study, gaining
access to academic positions and earning tenure. Prestige is also
reflected in the impact factor, which is higher than that of any other
socio-legal studies journal. I see further reason for celebration in the
global nature of the journal’s content. Our recent editorial introduc-
tion presents the impressive list of research sites in the Americas,
Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia which authors have investigated
in recent years.
It was with such celebratory intent that I organized, for the
2016 Annual Meetings of the Law & Society Association, a distin-
guished panel, consisting of three presenters: Calvin Morrill, Sida
Liu, and Susan Silbey, and two discussants: Terry Halliday and
Carroll Seron. The event, however, was not just about celebra-
tion. Panelists were also asked to critically reflect about the pre-
sent state and future development of the journal specifically and
publishing efforts of the LSA in general. Such reflection is war-
ranted for any institution that seeks to maintain its standing in a
constantly shifting institutional and socio-political environment. I
thus asked the panelists to address several issues regarding the
nature of scholarly work, inspired by Randall Collins’ (1998) sem-
inal work on the nature of intellectual change:
1. Socio-legal studies are one area of scholarly production. The
nature of that production has changed since the LSR was
founded 50 years ago. How, in your mind, has it changed,
beyond the massive growth in contributions?
2. The nature of socio-legal scholarly networks has changed. What
was a rather intimate circle of scholars, Gemeinschaft-like, engag-
ing in face to face interaction, coordinating the production for
the early volumes of the LSR, has become Gesellschaft, a much
larger group of contributors, with only limited face-to-face famil-
iarity but instead substantial disciplinary, substantive, and meth-
odological differentiation.
3. The institutions within which knowledge is produced and dis-
seminated have changed, and the socio-political-economic envi-
ronment has undergone dramatic transformation. What
changes are relevant in our context, and what are the conse-
quences for the LSR?
3a Regarding the institutional context, consider, for example,
the increase in the number of socio-legal journals, each
with its own place in the social ecology of specialized out-
lets. At the same time, socio-legal studies have only rarely
generated their own academic units. This situation differs
from that of neighboring fields such as criminology and
criminal justice studies, where the development of
1018 LSR at 50 and the Future of LSA Publishing

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