Prof Mary Vogel

Honorary Professor

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Research interests

Dr Vogel’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.

Mary Vogel has also edited a volume, Crime, Inequality and the State (Routledge, 2007), which examines criminal justice policy by asking why, if crime has gone down, imprisonment has continue to rise. Her account points to politics that is creating an image of a strong and resurgent state that is responding to crime. It masks continuing weakness admidst a global shift from publicly accountable governance to private power .

One of Dr Vogel’s current project focuses on the socio-historical origins of plea bargaining in England during the 19th century. A second focuses on the expansion of plea bargaining around the globe since 2000. A third area of work focuses on organised crime and its prosecution. Dr Vogel is working with partners at Oxford University and East China University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai, to forge a research network (NOrCAP) in this area. Three conferences are being hosted by the network during 2014.   

Her upcoming work explores 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 – first, to a ‘rule of law’ 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 ‘self rule’ 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 ‘law rule’ and ‘self rule’ 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.

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.

Other research

Previous grants

"Plea Bargaining and Democratic Politics:  US and UK" (Leverhulme Trust), Kings College London

Bunting Research Fellowahip, Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, Harvard University, 1993

American Philosophical Association, research grant, 1993

Nuala McGann Drescher Fund, research fellowship, 1989

Research grant, Mark de Wolfe Howe Fund, Harvard Law School, Harvard University, 1986


Research and projects