Mapping the Terrains of Hard and Soft Law.

Guy Mundlak, Els Sol

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper is the first step in a research project into soft law as a governance instrument for the European Social Model/Labour Market Policies and in particular with regard to Social Risk Management (Schmid,2005). In the attempt to link non-formal forms of regulation with substantive experiments in risk management, it has occurred that many forms of legal innovations are clustered at present under the umbrella of soft law. These range from the use of the Open Method of Coordination at the European level, to codes of practice and conduct, derogation by agreement among the social partners, customization of benefits to individual needs and more. The paper seeks to map the terrains of the many uses envisioned by those who refer to the term 'soft law'. On the basis of this survey we seek to ask - Is it a truly innovative form of governance which is different from previous hard-law measures, or is it merely a variation of very familiar instruments? To what extent are hard and soft law dichotomous alternatives? Do soft law measures challenge our understanding of law, or the distinction between legal and social norms? Is soft-law a coherent agenda for the governance of the social sphere i.c. the European Social Model, or is it merely a neo-liberal disguise for de-regulation? ..PAT.-Unpublished Manuscript
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006


  • SOFT law
  • RISK management in business
  • LABOR market
  • SOCIAL participation
  • LAW
  • SOCIAL responsibility


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