Ole Hammerslev

Ole Hammerslev


Personal profile


  • Legal Profession
  • Legal encounters
  • Legal Aid
  • State Transformation
  • Socio-Legal Theory and Methodology

Current Research

My research covers several different areas within the sociology of law using insights from sociology of elites, education, political science and science, legal history and jurisprudence. A recurrent denominator is the legal profession as an entrance to examine elites, education and the development of states and markets. Moreover, my research engages with legal encounters focusing on the pre-dispute phase, i.e. how disputes emerge and transform into legal disputes. To be able to examine such issues, my basic research interest is in socio-legal theories and methodologies.

Some of my current research projects:

  1. Lawyers in 21st-Century Societies is a collaborative work comparing 46 jurisdictions around the world. It addresses the impact of globalisation and neoliberalism on Legal professions, changes in lawyer demography, legal education, production structures, distribution of lawyers across roles, and access to justice.
  2. Legal encounters: The law of the welfare state is characterised by framework law leaving discretion to caseworkers and opening up for other concerns than strictly legal. My research examines framework law’s impact on legal encounters between caseworkers and homeless youth.
  3. Legal aid: Which paths do citizens follow and which barriers exist to seeking legal assistance and how does the supply of legal aid affect citizens' ability to seek legal aid? The research gives insight into the relationship between ‘justiciable’ problems and deprivation and illustrates the role of legal aid institutions in the battle against social exclusion.
  4. Lawyers and state transformations change the focus from the legal professions category towards exploring state transformations. It pursues two interrelated avenues. Firstly, this lens can prove powerful to trace, over time, the interaction between legal evolution and the periodic outbreak of political upheavals. In this, the project takes on the cue of the sociology of the state and legal history by focusing on the symbiosis between the relative autonomy of the legal field and the legitimation of state power, stressing the key role of intermediation played by lawyers in the formation of state power. A corollary of this hypothesis is that the comparative historical analysis of national fields of state power can help shed light on the structure and transformation of national legal fields.

In my research, I primarily use qualitative methods, but have e.g. also used statistics, comparisons, prosopography, and historical methods.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

UKÄ subject classification

  • Law and Society


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Collaborations the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or