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       Adam Podg˛recki Prize >>> 2006
 

 

The 2006 Adam Podg˛recki Prize was awarded, for the first time, according to the modified guidelines decided by the Board at the 2005 Paris Annual Meeting of the RCSL and agreed to by Maria Los. The new guidelines provide that the yearly award should alternate between a Prize for lifework achievements in socio-legal research (winner 2005 Erhard Blankenburg) and a Prize for an outstanding published study of an emerging socio-legal scholar. Accordingly, a call for nominations of respective contributions to the field of socio-legal research was placed in the RCSL Newsletter and a Prize Committee established (AndrÚ-Jean Arnaud, Erhard Blankenburg, Sandra Burman, Masayuki Murayama, and Klaus A Ziegert) to review the nominated contributions and select a winner of the Prize.

The call for nominations had a moderate but respectable reach and ultimately 12 nominations were received. Following up on the nominations, 5 contributions were considered not to fulfill the criteria for the award set by the RCSL.  This left the members of the Prize Committee with the unenviable task to find the most outstanding contribution in a dense field of demonstrated truly outstanding socio-legal work. Further discussions in the Prize Committee led to a ranking of those publications (4) which were assessed as the best fit with the criteria of the Adam Podg˛recki Prize. This procedure yielded Kiyoshi Hasegawa as the outstanding winner in an excellent field of competitors. In the view of the Prize Committee, Kiyoshi Hasegawa delivers what could become a "classic" in socio-legal research and is very much sociology of law in the spirit of Adam Podg˛recki. The latter is not so surprising when one learns that Masaji Chiba, one of the international doyens of sociology of law and founders of the 1964 Research Committee of Sociology of Law was a close friend of Adam Podg˛recki and teacher of Hasegawa. More importantly, Kiyoshi Hasegawa challenges ľ in the best tradition of good socio-legal scholarship, that is, theorising with the support of empirical scrutiny - one of the "best keptö myths in the socio-legal community, namely that Japanese society is law-avoiding and non-litigious. We hope very much that the award of the 2006 Adam Podg˛recki Prize encourages him to publish his study or a version of it in English and so to make this exemplary socio-legal study accessible to a wider audience.
 

About the Winning Contribution

Kiyoshi Hasegawa, The Urban Community and the Law: The Creation of Public Space through Building Agreements and District Plans (University of Tokyo Press, 2005, iii +360pp.)

This book examines how residents of suburbs in Japan enhance and preserve their housing environments by utilizing legal rules.

The first objective of this book is to discuss whether suburban residents in Japan utilize the legal system. Takeyoshi Kawashima, a leading Japanese sociologist of law, once commented that the conflicts in rural communities in Japan could be resolved through compromise or negotiation instead of by legal rules. However, based on research on the behavior of actual residents in suburbs, this book explains that Kawashimaĺs scenario does not hold true for modern-day suburbs.

The second aim of this book is to understand whether the legal system in Japan functions effectively with regard to the conservation of hospitable dwelling environments. Residential districts in Japan are often considered to be chaotic and ugly; however, in some areas, residents do try to improve their dwelling environments. The author investigates these residentsĺ efforts towards creating better districts and proposes the revision of some legal regulations.

This study particularly focuses on Building Agreements (BAs hereafter; the contracts of property owners) and District Plans (DPs hereafter; a type of land use plans). Both are often used in exclusive residential districts. This book analyzes 26 dispute cases that occurred within as well as outside the BA areas, 6 cases involving the creation (and renewal) of the BAs, and 2 cases involving the creation of the DPs. These analyses are based on a database that includes both exhaustive interviews with government officials and residents as well as answers to the questionnaires that were sent to most of the community boards of the homeowners associations (HOAs) in Yokohama.

In conclusion, this book emphasizes that suburban residents utilize legal rules to conserve their dwelling environments. Even if they do not visit courts, they often discuss issues within the framework of legal rules and persuade one another by referring to those rules. They also re-appropriate expert knowledge and put it to good use.

At the same time, residents distinguish between social norms and positive law in many cases. They acquire such attitudes and knowledge through argumentations in HOAs that are often based on the operation of existing non-legal neighborhood associations. These associations facilitate constructive discussions within their neighborhoods and also provide available resources such as manpower or funding. The author indicates that residents actually resolve their conflicts through legal rules mobilized by the non-legal associations.

Alex Ziegert
Chair of the Podg˛recki Prize Committee 2006

 

 

 

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