Legal Proceedings against Right-Wing Terrorism. Perspectives from Political Sociology and the Sociology of Law

Fabian Virchow Announcement
Subject Fields
Law and Legal History, Political History / Studies, Human Rights

Legal Proceedings against Right-Wing Terrorism

Perspectives from Political Sociology and the Sociology of Law

4-5 December 2015

University of Applied Sciences Duesseldorf

Several countries have witnessed severe acts of right-wing terrorism in the past decades. Be it the bank robberies and murder of Alan Berg by ‘The Order’ in the U.S., the mass killing by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway, the racist murders by John Ausonius who became known as the ‘Laserman’ in Sweden, or the racist crimes perpetrated by a group of neo-Nazis in Hungary – not to forget the bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980 and the assassination of Jitzchak Rabin by Jigal Amir. In all these cases, suspects were tried and eventually sentenced. Also, many observers expect a conviction of the defendants in the present proceedings against the NSU in Germany.

Although these crimes have hit the respective societies deeply and created a huge amount of attention, so far there is little sociological research on the impact of these crimes. There is even less academic knowledge about the subsequent court proceedings although those are considered an important contribution to the elucidation of the crimes and the circumstances that made them possible. For some, the trial is also a contribution to justice.

The conference invites contributions from the perspectives of political sociology as well as the sociology of law, such as

  • What had been the expectations of the wider public or particular groups regarding the course and the outcome of the legal proceedings. Did they materialize? If not what had been the cause?
  • How were the trials and those participating in it covered by the media?
  • How was the balance of power between the actors involved in the criminal procedure? Has it changed over the course of the process? If so, in which way and for what reason(s)?
  • What kind of reactions did the legal proceeding provoke from racist/-neoNazi groups? Did the trial or its outcome influence the political strategy and/or the choice of arms?
  • Did the state authorities react to these severe crimes by discussing or adopting new penal codes? Did the society or particular groups find the trial adequate in regard to understanding the matter and punish the guilty?
  • How was the behavior of the accused, not least in comparison with other criminal proceedings?
  • Have the trials been influenced by the particular political and legal culture? If so, in which way?
  • Which aspects of the crimes had been addressed in the course of the trials, which had been de-addressed? For what reasons?

We invite theoretical as well as more empirical papers that cover one of the issues mentioned above or raises other questions from one of the two sociological questions. By bringing together contributions around several cases of trials against far right terrorists the conference aims at comparing the cases along one or more of the above mentioned or some further questions.

Abstracts of a maximum of 1,000 words should clearly outline the theoretical approach, empirical material (if any), research methods and basic results of the respective study. Please send your abstract as a pdf-file to the e-mail-address below using the following file title: YOUR NAME_LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.pdf no later than September 15th, 2015.

The conference will be organized by sections Political Sociology and Sociology of Law of the German Sociological Association in cooperation with the Research Unit on Right-Wing Extremism at Duesseldorf University of Applied Sciences.

Accepted papers will be notified not later than early October. Organizers will work hard to refund invited speakers.

Contact Information

Prof. Dr. Fabian Virchow

University of Applied Sciences Duesseldorf

Universitaetsstrasse 1

D – 40225 Duesseldorf



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