Justice and Inequality Studied by Social Science

Studies on social inequality and justice have been common in the English-speaking world for many decades. In France, they have focused on criminal justice, showing for example that working-class men were over-criminalized, as well as revealing discriminatory practices according to citizenship or race. However, the citizens’ ordinary experience of justice cannot be reduced to their interactions with criminal courts.

Project JUSTINES studies civil justice’s most active branch, family justice, with a focus on social inequality in a field that deals with everyday, ordinary and intimate matters. It intends to show the part played by gender in conflicts that oppose women and men of different social backgrounds and nationalities. This project studies what happens in the courtroom and, beyond, in citizens’ relationship to State bureaucracy as well as in their extra-judicial negotiations. It looks at inequalities in the way law is mobilized and applied, be it by lawyers, “notaires”, mediators, experts, social workers, State bureaucrats, etc. It also intends to see the effects of spatial inequality in the way the law is implemented in this field, by carrying out fieldwork in Paris and its suburbs, in comparison with other regions of France and other countries.

Project JUSTINES will bring together an interdisciplinary team of sociologists, legal scholars, political scientists, economists and geographers, to work on new quantitative and qualitative data. It will help structure an academic sub-field, and give evidence and tools to legal professionals, organizations and public institutions, to help reduce inequality in the way justice is carried out.