The VVI seeks to develop and disseminate socio-legal knowledge and theory regarding the interaction between law, governance and society. More specifically, the Institute studies the emergence, functioning, and evolution of legal institutions.
The VVI combines a top-down with a bottom-up approach; it considers perspectives of both state agents, citizens and other non-state actors. And driven by normative concerns, the VVI relies on conceptual frameworks that relate to the rule of law, access to justice and legal pluralism.
In its research, the Institute focuses both on the Global South and the Global North. The VVI has particular expertise in Europe, Africa (including North Africa) and Indonesia. The Institute combines legal and sociological/anthropological tools of inquiry. It has a strong track record in fieldwork and qualitative research but increasingly also applies quantitative research methods.
The VVI is committed to collaboration with partners active in the regions of study. In this manner the Institute aims at making its research and findings available to a wide variety of public institutions, such as local NGOs, international organisations, and government institutions. In addition, collaboration with local partners allows the VVI to participate in public discussions about the role of law in society, in furtherance of social justice. The VVI is actively involved in international and national networks, such as the Law & Society Association, the Commission on Legal Pluralism, the Law & Development Research Network, and the Dutch Association of Law & Society.