Interlegality, Municipalities and Social Change: A Sociolegal Study of the Controversy around Bullfighting in Bogotá, Colombia.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This thesis ponders the participation of municipal authorities amidst processes of sociolegal change. Such interest originated from acknowledging the limited autonomy that municipalities have in the nested scalar jurisdictional order of most contemporary states, the relevance of municipalities as spaces of local democracy, the social movements’ advocacy for social change at local levels, and the inherent nature of municipalities as places where the law is realised in space and time.
The thesis focuses on the progressive loss of social acceptance of bullfighting spectacles in Colombia, particularly in its capital Bogotá, since the last decade of the 20th century. Since 2012, Bogotá’s municipal governments, in cooperation with social forces committed to animal welfare, have understood bullfighting as a spectacle that, above all, involves animal abuse, in contradiction to national provisions that address the spectacle primarily as a cultural expression. The controversy over bullfighting is embedded in a broader process of societal change fuelled by the recognition of animals as sentient beings and the proposal of new moral, social and legal principles upholding a different relationship between animals and humans.
The thesis draws on interlegality, scales and jurisdictions to describe and analyse the municipal level as a participant in complex interactions embedded in a far-reaching, historical, iterative and dynamic process of sociolegal transformation. It analyses interviews with social actors, national legislation, municipal resolutions, Constitutional Court cases and other normative documents as empirical material. The analysis traces the bottom-up and top-down movements of social objects and practices to understand the jurisdictional games deployed over time, reveal the different legal objects and interpretative frames used, and expose the jurisdictional arrangements that ultimately constrain the municipal scopes of action.
The study shows that the historical interlegal dynamic over bullfighting in Colombia restricted the recent attempts by Bogotá mayoral administrations to promote changes concerning the bullfighting spectacle by making the survival of bullfighting rules an issue of public interest related to urban public order and as a source of the plural national identity. This was possible by entangling the bullfighting canon into different legal spaces over time, thus constraining the definition of legal objects in terms of interpretative frames of bullfighting. The case shows how historical interlegal arrangements can adapt to societal changes through an iterative process of legal interpretation triggered by social actors. Municipal authorities are dependent on this continuous process of seeking and adjusting legal meaning through iterations, a process in which said authorities continuously seek social, political and legal intelligibility in their decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology of Law
  • Baier, Matthias, Supervisor
  • Sonander, Anna, Assistant supervisor
Award date2022 Jun 20
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-91-8039-298-3
ISBN (electronic) 978-91-8039-299-0
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2022-06-20
Time: 14:00
Place: Pufendorfinstitutet, Biskopsgatan 3, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Petersen, Hanne
Title: Professor
Affiliation: University of Copenhagen

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology


  • Interlegality
  • legal scales
  • jursidictions
  • urban governance
  • social change
  • cultural change
  • law and culture
  • social policy
  • urban planning
  • socio-ecological transition
  • animal advocay
  • animal protection
  • civic culture
  • bullfighting
  • bullfights
  • sociology of law
  • Bogotá
  • Colombia


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