2021-22 Visiting Fellow: Kasia Krzyżanowska

In our Visiting Fellow series, we will hear from the academics and PhD students who virtually joined The Centre of Law and Society in the 2021-2022 academic year. In this post, we hear from Kasia Krzyżanowska, whose research looked at The judicial rule of law — socio-legal perspective on the Polish constitutional system.

What did I research?

Though national constitutional identity has become a topical issue in the very recent years and numerous doctrinal or historical studies have already analysed the content of the judgements, there was very little research on this topic from the socio-legal perspective. This is why I decided to take the case of Poland, the EU member state that underwent significant constitutional changes in the past few years, and apply sociological methods to discover how the constitutional judges — the former and the sitting ones — are envisioning the concept of constitutional identity as defined in Article 4(2) TEU. The precise question that my PhD thesis is attempting to answer is how the Polish constitutional judges understand constitutional identity and how do they envision the relation of the national constitutional arrangements and the EU supremacy principle in light of the recent constitutional developments, sometimes in a direct conflict with the EU law provisions. The more ambitious goal is to decide whether the constitutional identity concept hinders or rather enhances European integration, and what is the role of the core constitutional actors — judges —in this process. To this end, I apply the socio-legal methodology of semi-structured interviews conducted with the constitutional judges and the clerks, which are focused on the background knowledge leading the judges to decide in a particular way the constitutional cases with European dimension.

Why did I research?

This is why I decided to apply for the CLS visiting fellowship. The School is a vivid academic community that encourages non-doctrinal methods in the analysis of law, especially public law. Even though the in-person stays were suspended because of the pandemic, I applied to the School with an aim of encountering like-minded socio-legal scholars, keen on expanding the legal imagination beyond traditional ways of thinking. Coming from the EUI, where interdisciplinary is much cherished, I wanted to improve my skills in conducting a sociological endeavour — and the CLS is one of the best places in Europe to meet experts in innovative legal approaches. I wanted to learn from the best scholars and had much privilege to be introduced to the Centre under the sponsorship of its director, prof. Jiří Přibáň, whose philosophical, empirical and methodological works on European public law were inspiring for my own academic research.

How did I research?

During my research stay in spring 2022, I participated in the research seminars with leading experts in empirical legal studies organised by the CLS (invitees often closely cooperated with other European centres for socio-legal studies, such as the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (IISL) in Oñati). Additionally, and most importantly for my research, I was able to discuss my thesis with other research fellows and friends of the CLS, whose feedback was a tremendous practical help in terms of novel ideas, thesis structure and suggestions for the questions in the interview script. Needless to say, I have also had the opportunity to discover cutting-edge research of my colleagues who joined the CLS together with me. I could not emphasise enough how the kindness, professionalism and experience of all the CLS members, but particularly prof. Přibáň, make this place a welcoming and helpful hub for socio-legal studies.