Mary Vogel

Mary Vogel


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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Vogel&rsquo;s work takes a comparatively informed socio-historical approach that integrates theory with both quantitative and qualitative empirical analysis. She has written Coercion to Compromise: Plea Bargaining, the Courts and the Making of Political Authority (Oxford University Press, 2007) as well as a series of articles that explore the social and historical origins of plea bargaining in America during the 19th century. Her work explores the role of the courts, in a new nation with little in the way of local government yet set in place, in establishing political stability and social order, constructing democractic political authority and articulating relations of citizenship. <br /><br />Initially, Mary Vogel shows plea bargaining to be a sophisticated social sorting mechanism. It was one which was adapted from British common law traditions of episodic leniency that drew on character witnesses to distinguish the worthy, who had made a misstep and were redeemable under the watchful eyes of family and employers, from others who were perceived to be more intransigent and who received custodial sentences. As the 19th century wore on, Dr Vogel shows that the courts moved away from asking whether a defendant&rsquo;s communal ties could assure good behaviour and toward the use of experts to assess whether rehabilitation had been or, more problematically, could be accomplished and to predict future dangerousness &ndash; a legally and scientifically fraught enterprise. In a number of ways, this work shows the world to have changed around the cultural practice of plea bargaining and to have reshaped the way that it operates and the role that it plays. <br /><br />Mary Vogel has also edited a volume, Crime, Inequality and the State (Routledge, 2007), which examines criminal justice policy in light of new research about how diversity, disadvantage and exclusion work through cultural practices such a parenting and labelling to play a role in processes of criminalization, risk of criminal offending and criminal justice. <br /><br />Dr Vogel&rsquo;s current project focuses on the role of law in the process of democratic state formation. This study centers on the tension which she sees as inherent in Western democracies between two principles to which they are committed &ndash; first, to a &lsquo;rule of law&rsquo; or rules, rights, Constitutions which stand outside the sway of popular opinion and claim some degree of autonomy and integrity of their own, on the one hand, and &lsquo;self rule&rsquo; which contends that it is precisely the will of the people, directly or through their elected representatives, that prevails, on the other. Mary Vogel explores comparatively the way different societies vary in their approaches to resolving this tension between &lsquo;law rule&rsquo; and &lsquo;self rule&rsquo; when making of their constitutional arrangements. She suggests that differences among these paths, especially the approach taken to judicial review, are a way of telling the story of the very different kinds of democracies that these societies become. <br /><br />In the longer term, Dr Vogel has begun work on comparative-historical studies of the role of law in processes of social class formation and of the historical development of conceptions and practice of rights. <br />

Research interests (short)

Criminology;comparative law; socio-legal studies.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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