What Is Transnational Law?
Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2012, pp. 500-24.
35 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2012 Last revised: 10 Apr 2016
Date Written: March 13, 2012
Is it important to conceptualize transnational law and ‘map’ it as a new legal field? This essay suggests that to do so might help both juristic practice and socio-legal scholarship by making it possible to organize, link and compare what often appear as very disparate and problematic, but increasingly significant, types of regulation. The attempt to clarify the nature of transnational law in general terms raises basic questions about the nature of ‘law’, on the one hand, and of ‘society’ (the realm law regulates), on the other. It forces a fundamental reconsideration of relationships between the public and the private, between law and state, and between different sources of law and legal authority. Taking as its focus two books that explore, in contrasting ways, the nature of law in transnational contexts, the essay considers what approaches may currently be most productive, and what key issues need to be addressed, to make sense of some broad trends in law’s extension beyond the boundaries of nation states.
Keywords: Transnational law, private law, economic regulation, legal theory, Hart, community, governance, standards, soft law, expertise, globalization
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