Law and Regulation in Late Modernity
Forthcoming in R Banakar and M Travers (eds) Law and Social Theory (Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2013)
25 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2013
Date Written: 2013
What happens to law when social institutions which ground its normativity become unstable and transitory? How can regulation make sense when fleetingness and fluidity become the enduring property of social structures? The social consequences of globalisation and the rise of the network society have heightened and expanded human agency’s powers of reflexivity vis-à-vis social structures. They have accelerated the process which melts the solid contours of the industrial society, paving the way for the emergence of reflexive or late modernity. These radical transformative processes have increased the agency’s ability to free itself from the constraints of social institutions and enabled it to move beyond the effective reach of traditional forms of social control. Under these conditions, forms of law, which are tied to social structures, lose their determinacy as they try to respond to the fluidity of social processes. This chapter starts by introducing the notion of late modernity before moving on to explore how the law fares under socio-cultural conditions specific to late modern societies. Part One uses the financial global crisis of 2007-2008 as a backdrop against which to formulate a number of concerns regarding the limits of legal regulation in late modernity. Part Two explores the formation and operations of the late modern state, asking if power is separated from politics and has moved to the level of global organisations. Part Three asks what kind of law is emerging de facto in response to the fluidity of late modernity, and how legal imagination envisages the future of law. The chapter concludes by discussing why late modernity, which marks the agency’s heightened powers of reflexivity, appears paradoxically wanting in transcendental imagination and determination.
Keywords: reflexivity, late modernity, liquefaction, law, rights, regulation, morality, derivatives, financial crisis, social corporate responsibility, globalisation, cosmopolitanism
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