Introduction: Law and the family at the crossroads of democratisation and transnationalisation




Family Law, human rights, democratisation, transnationalisation, child abduction, same sex marriage, Derecho familiar, derechos humanos, sistema familiar, sustracción de menores, matrimonio homosexual


In this introduction, the authors present the ambition that guided the composition of this edition devoted to family law. They first highlight the interest in addressing the intersection between the process of democratisation and the process of transnationalisation of families. These two processes are refracted in family law. They find their origin in the same refusal of a substantial moral definition of the “good family”. However, all normative perspective is not abandoned. A new normative and effective relationship is established between interactions and institutions. The new regulation of the family gives an important place to interactions and their immanent normativity. Legal principles (human rights, procedural standards) give expression to this mutation. Institutions are no longer given before the interaction, but rather constitute instruments for repairing the interactional order. This trend in the evolution of the law is particularly visible in the two cases treated in the issue: homosexual marriage and international child abduction. The close analysis of these two situations, however, suggests the persistence of obstacles to these transformations, due to the persistence of the principle of national sovereignty.

En esta introducción, los autores presentan la ambición que guió la composición de esta edición dedicada al derecho de familia. En primer lugar, destacan el interés por abordar la intersección entre el proceso de democratización a y el proceso de transnacionalización de las familias. Estos dos procesos se refractan en el derecho de familia. Encuentran su origen en el mismo rechazo de una definición moral sustancial de la “buena familia”. Sin embargo, no se abandona toda perspectiva normativa. Se establece una nueva relación entre interacciones e instituciones. La nueva regulación de la familia da un lugar importante a las interacciones y a su normatividad inmanente. Los principios jurídicos (derechos humanos, normas procesales) reemplazan las reglas que definen la “buena familia”. Las instituciones ya no se dan antes de la interacción, sino que constituyen instrumentos para reparar el orden interaccional. Esta tendencia en la evolución del derecho es particularmente visible en los dos casos tratados en el número: el matrimonio homosexual y la sustracción internacional de menores. El análisis cuidadoso de estas dos situaciones, sin embargo, sugiere la persistencia de obstáculos a estas transformaciones, debido a la persistencia del principio de soberanía nacional.


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Author Biographies

Olivier Struelens, Catholic University of Louvain

Olivier Struelens holds a PhD in sociology from the UCLouvain, Belgium. At the interface of disciplinary boundaries, his research has led him to develop an approach that takes the law seriously, immersing himself in legal complexities in order to draw out sociological reflections. Initially involved in the question of the political uses of law in social movements, he then took up the question of migration and the family. His doctoral thesis, defended in 2021, examines international parental abductions in the light of the notion of trust, opening up new reflections on the relationship between trust and law.

Post-doctoral researcher at Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Email address:

Contact details:

Centre de Philosophie du Droit (CPDR)
Collège Thomas More Place Montesquieu 2, L2.07.01
1348 Louvain-La-Neuve

Jean De Munck, Catholic University of Louvain

Catholic University of Louvain. Email address:


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How to Cite

Struelens, O. and De Munck, J. (2024) “Introduction: Law and the family at the crossroads of democratisation and transnationalisation”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 14(1), pp. 166–175. doi: 10.35295/osls.iisl.1988.