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       Adam Podgòrecki Prize >>> 2010

The winner of the Adam Podgòrecki Prize 2010 is Flora di Donato.

In 2010 the Podgòrecki Prize has been awarded to an emerging socio-legal scholar. The selected Jury included Stephan Parmentier, chairman, Professor of Sociology of Crime, Law and Human Rights at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; Marina Kurkchiyan, Professor of Socio-legal Studies at the University of Oxford, UK, and Luigi Cominelli, Professor of Sociology of Law at the University of Milan, Italy. Despite the number of excellent young scholars now devoted to socio-legal studies and the fact that the Prize was widely announced, two nominations only were received in due time. The Jury therefore recommended to the RCSL Board to undertake any extra effort to increase the attractiveness of this important Prize, such as more widely advertising, but also by simplifying the procedure and allowing self-nominations in a variety of languages from scholars who are eligible under the terms of the Prize. Not-withstanding the limited number of candidates, their quality was very high and the Jury carefully deliberated about the question whom to award the prize to.

One of the two candidate was Erika Rackley, who is currently a senior lecturer in law at Durham University, with visiting appointments at various universities in North America and the role coordinator in several international research networks. Erika nomination concerned her extensive work on judicial diversity and women judges, mostly in anglo-saxon countries. On the basis of an outstanding series of articles in reputable journals, she has been able to establish herself as an international expert in this field. Her work reflects several strands of thought, including examinations of imaginative representations of judges and judging, pioneering analyses of the UK’s first woman Law Lord, and the creative use of literary images to analyse the work of judges and lawyers. BY using metaphorical references, Erika not only prompted a rethinking of professional roles and possibilities through the lenses of gender, but also embarked upon the road of judicial activism in favour of a more balanced diversity in modern-day judiciaries.

The other candidate nomination was Flora Di Donato, currently a post-doctoral researcher in sociology of law and philosophy of law at the Open University Pe-gaso in Naples. Over the years she has built up an extensive research agenda on judicial proceedings as a matter of narratives. In her book La costruzione giudiziaria del fatto, the author made use of the most advanced developments in sociology, such as social constructionism, as evidenced by the work of Berger and Luckmann, Searle and Bruner. Through careful participant observation of court cases Di Donato has shown how ‘facts’ are artificially built up in view of a final judicial decision. In this process, the client is becoming increasingly active in the construction of his or her case, while the judge continues to decide cases by selecting the story with the highest social and cultural credibility. Interestingly, her interdisciplinary work included insights from sociology, psychology, jurisprudence and literature, as well as intercultural and interlinguistic (due to extensive research stays in Naples and Neuchâtel). The Jury was particularly impressed by two aspects of Flora di Donator work. First, the transparent way of demonstrating fundamental changes in the complex relationship between clients-lawyers-judges and the redistribution of roles according to “competences”, whereby individual clients (mostly lay people) have gained in social and cultural emancipation while judges continue to operate under a regime of communicative simplification that conforms their own arguments. Second, the extensive qualitative empirical work conducted in courts and during court proceedings, which has allowed the author to painstakingly reconstruct these relationships from the bottom up.

For these reasons, the Jury decided to award the Podgòrecki Prize 2010 to Flora Di Donato. The official act occurred in Gothemburg, on the occasion of the ISA World Congress, July 13th, 2010.

(RCSL Newletter Fall 2010)

2010 Call for Nominations: see our Archive page



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This page last updated 27 December 2010

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