Mind the Gap: The Place of Gap Studies in Sociolegal Scholarship

Posted: 31 Oct 2012

See all articles by Jon B. Gould

Jon B. Gould

American University - School of Public Affairs; American University - Washington College of Law

Scott Barclay

Drexel University

Date Written: December 2012

Abstract

Arising in the late 1960s and early 1970s — in conjunction with the development of sociology of law and the Law and Society Association — gap studies dominated much of sociolegal scholarship for a time, providing multiple examples of the ways in which law on the books is inconsistent with law in action. These gaps, in turn, spurred calls for legal reform. By the 1980s, however, gap studies came in for criticism, not only for the presumption that law was purposively rational but also for scholars' beliefs that they could identify law's aims. To some, the findings were naïve or undertheorized. Nonetheless, gap studies have illuminated many legal practices and have helped to identify pathways by which law may have an impact. Even as sociolegal scholarship has become increasingly decentered from law, one still sees the tendrils of gap studies in research exploring discrepancies between expectations and actuality in law and legality.

Suggested Citation

Gould, Jon B. and Barclay, Scott, Mind the Gap: The Place of Gap Studies in Sociolegal Scholarship (December 2012). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 8, pp. 323-335, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2169181 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-102811-173833

Jon B. Gould (Contact Author)

American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Washington, DC 20016
United States

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Scott Barclay

Drexel University ( email )

3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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