The Law and New Social Relations area brings together researchers specializing in the study of changes that accompany new forms and new social uses of law. Headed by Professor Pierre Noreau, research in this area focuses essentially on ways that governance mechanisms for social relations adapt, and promotes the development of fundamental research in law.
Centred on human activity, the work in this area can be seen as belonging to four concentric spheres: the individual, organizations, the state and global society. The individual is at the heart of work on the (cultural and religious) identity theme, which takes a constitutionalist, pluralist and comparative perspective (Gaudreault-Desbiens, Bates, Van Praagh and Janda). In the next sphere, governance of enterprises is studied, which leads to redefinition of enterprises' institutional roles in a context of environmental claims and social cohesion issues in modern industrial communities (Rousseau, Janda). Aspects of pedagogical governance in the teaching of law are also studied by our researchers (Noreau, MacDonald, Lemay, Van Praagh). In the state sphere, we focus on ongoing projects targeting better governance of the legal system through the Observatoire du droit à la justice (Right to Justice Watch), which takes action at the request of legal stakeholders (Noreau, Jutras), and planned work on citizens' perceptions of law (Lemay, Garnier). The research done in the Cyberjustice Laboratory, which is described in the Law and information and Communications Technology section, also contributes to a better understanding of the normativities shaping legal mechanisms. Finally, in the international sphere, the theme of global governance and its impact on contemporary normative models also brings together researchers from the Regroupement Droit, changements et gouvernance (RDCG) (Benyekhlef, Côté, Melkevik, Neuwahl).
In 2010-2011, 18 research projects were undertaken and/or conducted in the framework of the area's research activities. The activities essentially concern ongoing adjustment of the shape of law to the moving contours of social relations, including redefinition of relations between the majority and minorities, relations between legal institutions and those subject to them, relations between the state and the citizen, and interpersonal and commercial relations.
These themes favour the development of fundamental research in law. The eight lead researchers and dozen associate researchers working in this area contribute in an ongoing manner to the development of legal theory in Québec and elsewhere. The teams belonging to this research area meet and share with one another, and their work is inspired by sociology and political science, economic analysis of law, anthropology, history and philosophy. Law is approached both as a product of society and as a factor structuring social relations. The themes discussed in this area concern, in particular, Aboriginal governance, legal ethics and new forms of state governance.In the course of 2010-2011 alone, the area's lead researchers prepared, published or submitted for publication 9 academic books, 33 chapters of books and 14 journal articles. They also gave 27 academic conferences. In terms of research, the lead researchers of the Law and New Social Relations area participated directly in the organization of many colloquia and conferences on themes as varied as financial speculation, judicial appointment processes and governance. Pierre Noreau is currently the President of the Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS) and Director of the Americas Office of the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). Violaine Lemay directs the interdisciplinary program for the PhD in Applied Human Sciences at the Université de Montréal, and has been appointed Director of the French-language section of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society.