The Force of Law and Lawyers: Pierre Bourdieu and the Reflexive Sociology of Law
Posted: 31 Oct 2012
Date Written: December 2012
Looking back 25 years after the publication of Pierre Bourdieu's seminal article “The Force of Law,” we inquire into the background for the weak reception of his work in law and society studies. We argue that the differences in the conceptions of law, state, and society between US law and society scholarship and French historical sociology have made it hard to transfer the theory across the Atlantic. We further contend that the impact of Bourdieu's work has generally been reduced by how it has been perceived as yet another French theory. It has thus been decoupled from perhaps its greatest strength, namely, the underlying notion of sociology as a reflexive practice. Against this background, this article sets out to reconnect the practice of Bourdieusian sociology with its conceptual framework and, in so doing, demonstrate its potentially central role in the sociology of law.
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