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Cultural Criticism of Law

in the 49 Stanford Law Review 1149 (1997).

Posted: 19 Sep 1997  

Guyora Binder

University at Buffalo Law School

Robert Weisberg

Stanford Law School


Professors Binder and Weisberg expound a "cultural criticism" of law that views law as an arena for composing, representing, and contesting identity, and that treats identity as constitutive of the interests that motivate instrumental action. They explicate this critical method by reference to "New Historicist" literary criticism, postmodern social theory, and Nietzchean aesthetics. They illustrate this method by reviewing recent scholarship of two kinds: First, they explore how legal disputes take on expressive meaning for parties and observers against the background of legal norms regulating or recognizing identities. Second, they examine "readings" of the representations of character, credit, and value in commercial and financial law that emphasize the role of the figurative imagination in the creation of markets and market society. Professors Binder and Weisberg conclude that law does not so much represent a social world of subjects that exists independent of it, as it does compose that world. Accordingly, the criticism enabled by their "cultural" account of law is more aesthetic than epistemological.

Suggested Citation

Binder, Guyora and Weisberg, Robert, Cultural Criticism of Law. in the 49 Stanford Law Review 1149 (1997).. Available at SSRN:

Guyora Binder

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-2673 (Phone)
716-645-2640 (Fax)

Robert Weisberg (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-723-0612 (Phone)
650-723-4330 (Fax)

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