Wait, what are we fighting about? - Kelsen, Ehrlich and the reconciliation of normative jurisprudence and sociology of law

M.J. Hopman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The 1915-1917 debate between Ehrlich and Kelsen is a fundamental debate in legal theory, between normative jurisprudence and sociology of law. Although both professors see themselves as being on opposite sides of the legal theoretical spectrum, this article offers the possibility that perhaps both theories could be combined to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of law and the legal order. Instead of being opposite approaches to the study of law, sociology of law and normative jurisprudence could also be understood as complementary theories which, if taken together, cover a larger part of the legal spectrum of any society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155–175
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law
Issue number2-3
Early online date19 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Sociology of law
  • normative jurisprudence
  • Kelsen
  • Ehrlich

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