The Force of Law and Lawyers: Pierre Bourdieu and the Reflexive Sociology of Law

Posted: 31 Oct 2012

See all articles by Yves M. Dezalay

Yves M. Dezalay

University of Angers - French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

Mikael Madsen

University of Copenhagen - iCourts - Centre of Excellence for International Courts; University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 2012

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Dezalay, Yves M. and Madsen, Mikael, The Force of Law and Lawyers: Pierre Bourdieu and the Reflexive Sociology of Law (December 2012). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 8, pp. 433-452, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2169178 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-102811-173817

Yves M. Dezalay (Contact Author)

University of Angers - French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris cedex 16, 75794
France

Mikael Madsen

University of Copenhagen - iCourts - Centre of Excellence for International Courts ( email )

University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Law ( email )

Studiestraede 6
Studiestrade 6
Copenhagen, DK-1455
Denmark

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