Over the past few years, the study of humanitarianism has emerged as an interdisciplinary subfield in international political sociology. This article maps out some preliminary ideas about the role of legal sociology in this project. The study of international humanitarian law has overwhelmingly been the terrain of doctrinal legal scholars, while the apparent lack of other law has meant that, until recently, legal sociologists have paid little attention to the humanitarian sector. There has also been little scholarly concern regarding the consequences of not asking questions about the role of law in the humanitarian project. We argue that legal sociology helps us understand how rules, standards and norms shape and are shaped by practices and interactions within and across humanitarian spaces globally, and how law contributes to humanitarian governance.