The IAP research network P6/01 « Justice and Society: The Sociopolitical History of Justice Administration in Belgium (1795-2005) » is part of the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme, financed by the Belgian Science Policy Office of the Belgian State.
Following their exploratory study of the political and social history of justice in Belgium from 1830 to the present (D. Heirbaut, X. Rousseaux & K. Velle, Politieke en sociale geschiedenis van justitie in België van 1830 tot heden/ Histoire socio-politique de la justice en Belgique de 1830 à nos jours, La Charte/ Die Keure, 2004), the partners in this network defined the following general objectives for the research programme: to address several of the lacunae in the existing knowledge of the field, to conduct integrated and in-depth fundamental research in order to realise a complete, critical and structured synthesis, and to move beyond the judicial paradigm on the methodological level.
The research efforts to be invested were set out to cover, as much as possible, the entire period from 1795 up until 2005, and to be focused on the following five axes:
- The evolution of policies carried out by various justice system actors (from government officials to actors in the field), in the areas of both criminal and civil law: it was felt to be particularly urgent to examine simultaneously the political debates, policy guidelines, the administration of justice, and their impact on society, whether in the private sphere, the workplace, on the economical level or in the field of order maintenance.
- The collective practices of justice system actors: the aim put forward was to establish a bridge between legal history and social history through systematic and quantitative analysis of the political and administrative sociology of the actors operating on the different levels within the justice system.
- The profiles of justice system actors: here, the goal was to focus on the judicial professions (magistrates, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs,..), civil servants of the Ministries and the penitentiary administration, prison and police officials, in their dealings with law and justice.
- Comprehensive study of particular historical periods: for this first IAP phase, the partners decided to concentrate on two particularly challenging periods of foundation and crisis: the origins of Belgian justice (1795-1830) and the two World Wars (1914-1950).
- Providing online access for the scientific community to digital resources and databases offering useful sources and data for the study of the sociopolitical history of justice in Belgium: a Research Repository with digitized archival and other sources and references for Belgium justice history (under construction); a database with prosopographic information about Belgian magistrates (judicial biographies); a database with the Belgian judicial statistics ("Quetelet.net", to be integrated in this portal by December 2011).