Law as social science or humanity? Some notes on “academic determinism”




Law, social sciences, humanities, academic determinism, ERC, Polanyi, Derecho, ciencias sociales, humanidades, determinismo académico, CEI


The European Research Council (ERC) funding scheme classifies law within the social sciences and humanities sector, identifying legal science as a social science. The paper presents the case-study of such a classification as a deterministic model of evaluation and assessment of legal research. This may impact on career opportunities of individuals as well as on scientific independence, tacitly predefining the selection of research topics and legal methodology. The paper argues that ERC encourages a successful trend of conducting legal research to obtain funding, through the application of indicators. Their aim is to show which process has been followed to achieve and measure results. Legal science then risks being reduced to the analysis of legal performance. In this context, re-reading some writings of Polanyi on social sciences as well as on the critique of economic determinism sheds light on forms of academic determinism that affect the way of carrying-out research.

El sistema de financiación del Consejo Europeo de Investigación (CEI) clasifica el Derecho dentro del sector de las ciencias sociales y las humanidades, e identifica la ciencia jurídica como una ciencia social. Este artículo presenta el caso práctico de dicha clasificación como modelo determinista de evaluación y valoración de la investigación jurídica, lo cual puede repercutir en las oportunidades profesionales de las personas, así como en la independencia científica, al predefinir tácitamente la selección de los temas de investigación y la metodología jurídica. El artículo sostiene que el CEI fomenta una tendencia de éxito en la realización de investigaciones jurídicas para obtener financiación, mediante la aplicación de indicadores. Su objetivo es mostrar qué proceso se ha seguido para alcanzar y medir los resultados. La ciencia jurídica corre entonces el riesgo de reducirse al análisis del rendimiento jurídico. En este contexto, la relectura de algunos escritos de Polanyi sobre las ciencias sociales, así como sobre la crítica del determinismo económico, arroja luz sobre las formas de determinismo académico que afectan a la forma de llevar a cabo la investigación.


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Author Biography

Mariavittoria Catanzariti, EUI

Mariavittoria Catanzariti, European University Institute. Email address:


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How to Cite

Catanzariti, M. (2024) “Law as social science or humanity? Some notes on ‘academic determinism’”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 14(2), pp. 554–574. doi: 10.35295/osls.iisl.1731.