Call for Papers: Administrative Multinormativity

Call for Papers

Authors’ workshop
Administory: Journal for the History of Public Administration

Download the Call for  Papers in German here: CfP_de

Volume 5: Administrative Multinormativity

Which normative standards are able to guide administrative action? Irrespective of the era or administrative culture under analysis, it should be clear that administration is not merely a dispassionate enforcer of legal norms or an executor of political programmes. Rather, administrations operate within a network of different normativities. Neither a law-like, differentiated programme of norms nor a binding force that derives its strength from judicial enforceability or from the authority of higher political instances are necessary features thereof; it can be the case that normativities only are diffuse and informal; sometimes they first become visible when conflicts over norms erupt.

But beyond legal programming and political guidelines, what normativities are we actually talking about? First of all, it can be generally said that administrative differentiation often goes hand in hand with normative differentiation – but not necessarily so. Thus, economic administration – especially if it is closely connected with its clientele – can orient itself to a large extent on economic imperatives and rationales, even if these are not reflected to this extent in the existing law. Technical administration can identify with the technical rationality of engineers. Social administration can adopt dispositions inspired by social welfare principles that might stand in opposition to the law’s narrow possibilities for action.

What is clear is that the administration itself is normatively differentiated. The law often absorbs these special rationalities in the form of special laws and thus translates them back into legal regulation (but this does not always occur). On the other hand, normative plurality does not exhibit itself only in such functional differences. Certain ideas of honour and conceptions of loyalty generate their own normative power in a variety of different ways. At the same time, it is also clear that the standards of diplomatic courtesy mean that Foreign Service officials can act differently than officials belonging to a domestic regulatory agency.

However, conflicts of standards, generally speaking, can arise in many everyday contexts. There has always been a certain conflict between the economic imperative of conserving various resources and the appropriate fulfilment of administrative tasks, between official requirements and the routines tied to the pragmatic performance of service subcutaneously converted into normative categories, between the rules of cleverness of subaltern ‘stubbornness’ and hierarchical command logic, as well as between local and central rationalities of action.

Administration thus proves to be a particularly difficult venue to comprehend when it comes to ideas about what can be regarded as ‘right’ and ‘appropriate’. Such contradictory entanglements can manifest in the agencies themselves, in the relationship between different agencies, or in the relationship between the administration and the administrative audience.

Contributions mapping out this landscape are now being collected for the special issue of Administory: ‘Administrative Multinormativity’, edited by Peter Becker (Vienna) and Peter Collin (Frankfurt am Main). Case studies involving 19th– and 20th-century administration should show how cooperation and conflict between different normativities were carried out, how new normative arrangements emerged, and how normative conflicts were made manageable.

First versions of the texts will be discussed at an author workshop to be held on 27-28 September 2019 at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt am Main; travel and accommodation costs will be covered. We invite historians, jurists, sociologists and cultural and political scientists to submit contributions (in German or English). Proposals (maximum 500 words) should be submitted to or by 15 May 2019.

Workshop Announcement (Princeton) – The Family in the Premodern World

Call for Papers \ Family in the Premodern World: A Comparative Approach

A Workshop at Princeton University, April 7-8, 2017

Organized by Lee Mordechai and Sara McDougall

“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society…”

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 16.3

The family is perhaps the most basic, common and important social institution across the world in recorded history. The single word in English, however, is used in a surprising number of ways to describe how to organize an individual and those close to them by birth, marriage or co-residence within a more-or-less coherent group. Indeed families, just as other cultural institutions, have long been defined by cultural norms and practices.

While the modern definition of the family is becoming ever more fluid and ‘new’ types of families appear in greater frequency, even a superficial survey of historical human cultures shows that there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ form of family, and that the concept has been constantly changing throughout history. The family could be an inclusive or exclusive institution within a society, while its size would vary between a handful to a few dozen individuals; the interpersonal ties between family members could withstand enormous social pressures or disintegrate almost immediately. A culture might impinge on the relationships within families or ignore them completely. We believe that a comparative approach would be the best way to emphasize these contrasts and the connection between them and the basic norms that govern a given society.

We invite papers that emphasize the themes of family and society and investigate the historical premodern family (up to the sixteenth century in Europe, but later suggestions for other areas would be welcome). Geographical areas and chronological periods are open and we aim for a wide comparative perspective of the workshop as a whole.

Topics can include, but are not limited to:

· A case study of a specific family or group of families within a society
· Structures of kinship and the forms of ties they create within a kin group
· Strategies of inclusion/exclusion within a family or between families
· A chronological approach to family development in a certain society
· Connections between family values and broader cultural dispositions
· Conflicts within or between families and acceptable ways to resolve them
· Marriage, divorce and family planning as family-construction strategies
· Social values, norms or taboos related to families within a given society
· Alternative or deviant family models

The workshop will take place on April 7-8, 2017 at Princeton University. Travel and accommodation funding is available for presenters from beyond the NJ/NY area. After the workshop, participants will be invited to submit their revised papers for publication in a special journal issue that will showcase the variety of premodern families and serve as a stepping stone for further comparative research on families in such societies in history. Please send abstracts of up to 500 words to before 15 January 2017. For queries, please email Lee Mordechai ( and Sara McDougall (

Workshop Announcement – Law in Theory and History: a Neglected Dialogue

The Centre for Legal History and the Centre for Legal Theory are proud to announce a joint workshop on the above-mentioned theme. The idea for this workshop arose from two edited collections produced by Maks del Mar and Michael Lobban (Legal Theory and Legal History (2014) and their newly published Law in Theory and History (2016)). The rationale for this workshop takes its cue from the blurb of the most recent work: “Legal historians have often been sceptical of theory. The methodology, which informs their own work is often said to be an empirical one, of gathering information from the archives and presenting it in a narrative form. The narrative produced by history is often said to be provisional, insofar as further research in the archives might falsify present understandings and demand revisions. On the other side, legal theorists are often dismissive of historical works. History itself seems to many theorists not to offer any jurisprudential insights of use for their projects: at best, history is a repository of data and examples, which may be drawn on by the theorist for her own purposes. The aim of this collection is to invite participants from both sides to ask what lessons legal history can bring to legal theory, and what legal theory can bring to history. What is the theorist to do with the empirical data generated by archival research? What theories should drive the historical enterprise, and what wider lessons can be learned from it?”

This blurb will form the springboard for the topics discussed during this workshop. Rather than focusing solely on these two books, the aim of this workshop is to bring together a diverse range of scholars working on different fields to debate the merits of legal history and legal theory in dialogue. Speakers are encouraged to produce papers about their own fields of interest, but within the broader theme of the workshop.

Venue: The University of Edinburgh, School of Law

Date and time: Friday 28 April 2017 9 am – 6 pm

Invited speakers:

Professor Caroline Humfress (St Andrews)
Professor John Hudson (St Andrews)
Professor Michael Lobban (LSE)
Professor Tom Gallanis (Iowa)
Dr Chloë Kennedy (Edinburgh)
Dr Stephen Bogle (Glasgow)
Dr Paul J. du Plessis (Edinburgh)
Dr Daniel Carr (Edinburgh)
Dr Maks del Mar (QMUL)

Professor Claudio Michelon (Edinburgh) will act as session chair.

Each speaker will have 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for discussion. The workshop will end with dinner. Accommodation will be provided in the Kenneth McKenzie Hospitality Suite for those coming from outside Edinburgh.

Invited speakers are requested to sent their titles and a short abstract of no more than 500 words to Paul du Plessis no later than 1 December 2016.