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Insurance has a long history in sociolegal research, most prominently as a window on accident compensation and related tort law in action. Recent work has extended that research, with the result that tort law in action may be the best mapped of any legal field outside criminal law. Sociological research has begun to explore insurance as a form of governance, with effects in many legal fields and across the economy. This essay reviews developments in both bodies of work. Part one examines the relationship between liability insurance and tort law in action using the metaphors of window and frame. Part two reviews research on insurance as governance. The conclusion returns to insurance as governance in the context of liability insurance, arguing that this is an especially promising field for sociolegal research.


Tort law in action, accident compensation, liability insurance as governance, decision-making, governance in other fields of law, governance in economics, risk, law and society

Publication Title

Annual Review of Law and Social Science

Publication Citation

6 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 433 (2010).