Prof. Dr. Sabine Frerichs

Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Sabine Frerichs studied Sociology, Economics, and Political Science at the University of Trier. In 2005, she earned her doctorate at an interdisciplinary graduate research center at the University of Bamberg with a thesis on “Judicial Governance in the European Community of Law: Integration through Law beyond the State”. In 2013, she also received her post-doctoral degree (habilitation) in Sociology at the University of Bamberg. Both her doctoral and habilitation theses were honored with dissertation and habilitation prizes from the University of Bamberg, respectively. Furthermore, Sabine Frerichs received the Dissertation Award from the German Sociological Association. Following her habilitation, Sabine Frerichs was Assistant Professor at the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Law, where she also previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the “Centre of Excellence ‘Foundations of European Law and Polity’”. In addition, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute in Florence in 2012 as well as a visiting lecturer at Charles University in Prague in 2015. Since 2016, she has been Professor of Economic Sociology at Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Her research focuses on sociological theory, macrosociology, and economic and legal sociology. In particular, she focuses on problems at the intersection of law, economy, and society as well as on European integration and globalization.

From October 2018 to September 2019 Professor Dr. Sabine Frerichs was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center “Law as Culture”.

Research Project

"Judging/Nudging Real Humans: Behavioural Law and Economics as a Cultural Project"

The project sets out from the question of how the individual subject is conceptualized in behavioural law and economics and how this conception differs from the presumption of rational choice in neoclassical law and economics. In popular accounts of the debate between behavioural and neoclassical economics, the answer is often simply given as follows: whereas neoclassical economists model economic action on the hypothetical construct of homo economicus, or the perfectly rational actor, behavioural economists are concerned with real human beings, which are characterized by bounded rationality. However, this does not necessarily mean that behavioural economics comes closer to the ‘truth’. Both schools of economic thought work with theoretical models, and actually apply different variants of the rational-choice model (broadly understood), which they aim to match with empirical data.

This project takes the perspective of the economic sociology of law, which brings the social contingency of economic and legal rationalities to the fore and focuses on their interplay and dynamics. In this perspective, scholarship in neoclassical and behavioural law and economics exemplifies ways in which economic rationalizations are imported into the law, or how economic and legal rationalities are being mediated. Against this backdrop, the behavioural turn is not of methodological interest only but because it may have far-reaching normative implications. In practical terms, the question is not only how to ‘nudge’ individual human beings as economic actors but also how to ‘judge’ them as legal persons, if classical concepts of rational agency no longer apply. In this regard, behavioural law and economics is more than an academic movement: it is a cultural project, which goes to the heart of our self-understanding as rational social beings.

Publications (selected)

  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2018 (forthcoming). What Is the ‚Social‘ in Behavioural Economics? The Methodological Underpinnings of Governance by Nudges. In: Research Methods in Consumer Law: A Handbook, Hrsg. Hans-W. Micklitz, Anne-Lise Sibony and Fabrizio Esposito, 1-39. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Frerichs, Sabine, James, Rick. 2018 (forthcoming). Correlated Ownership: Polanyi, Commons, and the Property Continuum. In: Research Handbook on the Sociology of International Law, Hrsg. Hirsch, Moshe, Lang, Andrew, 62-85. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Helmy, Mohamed M., Frerichs, Sabine. 2018. Sheherazade Says No: Artful Resistance in Contemporary Egyptian Political Cartoon. In: Street Art of Resistance, Hrsg. Awad, Sarah H., Wagoner, Brady, 349-376. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2017. Unravelling the European Community of Debt (Introduction to Special Issue). European Law Journal, 22 (6), 720-742.
  • Sankari, Suvi, Frerichs, Sabine. 2017. From Resource to Burden: Rescaling Solidarity with Strangers in the Single Market. European Law Journal, 22 (6), 806-821
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2017. The Rule of the Market: Economic Constitutionalism Understood Sociologically. In: Sociological Constitutionalism, Hrsg. Blokker, Paul; Thornhill, Chris, 241-264. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2016. The Law of Market Society: A Sociology of International Economic Law and Beyond. Finnish Yearbook of International Law 23, 173-237.
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2016. Egypt´s Neoliberal Reforms and the Moral Economy of Bread: Sadat, Mubarak, Morsi. Review of Radical Political Economics 48 (4), 610-632.
  • Helmy, Mohamed M., Frerichs, Sabine. 2013. Stripping the Boss: The Powerful Role of Humor in the Egyptian Revolution 2011. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 47 (4), 450-481.
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2012. What Constitutes the Market Society? Studies in the Economic Sociology of Law. Habilitationsschrift, University of Bamberg (Habilitation)
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2011. False Promises? A Sociological Critique of the Behavioural Turn in Law and Economics. Journal of Consumer Policy, 34 (3). 289-314.
  • Frerichs, Sabine. 2006. Judicial Governance in der europäischen Rechtsgemeinschaft: Integration durch Recht(sprechung) jenseits des Staates. Dissertation, University of Bamberg (Dissertation)