Legal Cultures in Transition – the Impact of European Integration

Legal Cultures in Transition – the Impact of European Integration

Investigators: Ase B Grodeland (PI); William L Miller; Marina Kurkchiyan; Kristian Andenaes.
Date: 2007-2012

Legal transplants – the transfer of laws and institutional structures across geographic or cultural borders – are more likely to work well if they are ‘imported rather than exported’. But in practice they often occur under pressure from an external power such as the EU or USA, and are designed to impose an external conception of good economic management and democracy – or simply to pursue the ‘war on terror’ more effectively. Exported legal cultures that conflict with local culture may simply fail to take root in new surroundings, or operate in an unpredicted way.

This project aims to provide ‘thick descriptions’ of legal cultures in three EU member states (Britain, Poland, Bulgaria), one EEA state (Norway) and one Near Neighbourhood state (Ukraine), in order to establish the extent to which legal cultures in Europe are converging. It will investigate legal culture and the contrasting perspectives of legal insiders and outsiders; the impact of religious traditions, the communist legacy, and the more recent ‘war on terror’ on legal culture; the impact of globalisation and intra-EU migration on legal culture; the interaction between legal culture and formal domestic law; and the interaction between legal culture and EU legislation.

This five-year project will be based on:

  • focus groups and nationally representative surveys; 
  • special focus groups and surveys with Muslim minorities; 
  • in-depth interviews with elites and professionals; 
  • court observation.


The first publications from this new project are not expected until 2009. However, the project builds on an evolving line of research which began with a focus on corruption and later developed through a focus on ‘informality’ (which may facilitate corruption but is distinct from it) to the current focus on legal culture more generally.

Publications on corruption and informality include:

William L. Miller (with Åse B. Grødeland, and Tatyana Y. Koshechkina).  A Culture of Corruption? Coping with Government in Postcommunist Europe (Budapest: Central European University Press, xviii + 365, 2001; ISBN 963 9116 98 X cloth / 963 9116 99 8 paper). [Ukrainian edition: translator: Dmytro Sklyarenko. Zvychayeva Koruptsiya? [Routine Corruption? Citizens and Government in Postcommunist Europe] (Kyiv: K.I.S. Ltd, Sept 2004) 328 pp. ISBN 966-8039-38-6]

William L. Miller (with Åse B. Grødeland, and Tatyana Y. Koshechkina). Confessions: A model of officials’ perspectives on accepting gifts from clients in postcommunist Europe. Political Studies (February 2001) 49: no.1 pp.1-29.

William L. Miller (with Åse B. Grødeland and Tatyana Y. Koshechkina). Are the people victims or accomplices: the use of presents and bribes to influence officials in Eastern Europe. Crime, Law and Social Change vol.29 no.4 (1998) pp. 273-312. A revised and shorter version published as: Victims or accomplices? Extortion and bribery in Eastern Europe,  in Alena V. Ledeneva and Marina Kurkchiyan (eds) Economic Crime in Russia (London: Kluwer Law International, 2000; ISBN 90-411-9782-6) pp.113-128.

Åse Berit Grødeland. ‘Red Mobs’, ‘Yuppies’ and ‘Lamb Heads’: Informal Networks and Politics in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania. Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 59, no. 2, March 2007, pp. 217-52.