The ecology of law

Arjen van Witteloostuijn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This theoretical paper is a plea for grafting yet another branch onto the flourishing tree of what may be called the social sciences of law: an ecology of law. In a nutshell, ecology deals with the evolution of (populations of) physical and social entities, well-known examples being animals and organizations. In the current paper, the argument is that the application of ecology can further the understanding of the evolution of law. That is, the ecological apparatus offers a different lens for the study of the rise and fall of classes or populations of statutes. Of course, this apparatus must be adapted in order to fit with the idiosyncracies of the domain of law. This paper offers a first attempt to do precisely this. Particularly, the argument is that a merger of the ecology of rules with the demography of rule-makers is likely to produce a productive mixture for the development of an ecology of law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


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