Legal Culture as Mental Software, or: How to Overcome National Legal Culture?
Jan M. Smits
Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI); University of Helsinki - Center of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity
PRIVATE LAW AND THE MANY CULTURES OF EUROPE, Thomas Wilhelmsson, Elina Paunio, Annika Pohjolainen, eds., Alphen aan den Rijn, pp. 141-151, 2007
Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2007-2
The concept of legal culture plays an important role in the debate about the unification of private law within the European Union. The question whether national cultural differences or differences between the civil law and the common law tradition, in particular, stand in the way of establishing a uniform private law led to a fierce debate. The aim of this contribution is to offer a general account of how we should deal with legal culture in the European context. In doing so, we build upon the work of Geert Hofstede. The point is made that when discussing the Europeanization of private law, we should turn away from national legal cultures and pay more attention to so-called 'cultural segments', legal cultures that are not national but functional in nature and that cross state borders. This is not to say that such an approach can be applied easily: the problems it raises will also be discussed.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: legal culture, unification, Hofstede
JEL Classification: A14, K10, P51Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 16, 2007 ; Last revised: August 14, 2010
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