Sociological Jurisprudence 2.0: Updating Law's Interdisciplinarity in a Global Context
33 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 11, 2013
The gap between law’s pronouncement of rules and their impact or failure in concrete social environments has long prompted efforts to make lawyers more responsive to the “realities on the ground”. While this turn to sociological jurisprudence seemed a logical consequence of the Legal Realists’ attack on formalism and positivism, it exposed legal theory to a never-ending series of questions concerning the limits of law in becoming an empirically informed social science. Even trailblazing Legal Realists themselves questioned the extent to which empirical knowledge might erode the core of law’s claim to authority. Where are we today, after numerous transgressions à la “law & economics”, “law & society”, “law & psychology” etc? But, how should this question be answered in light of the globalization of social relations, that has brought about the rise of numerous, border-crossing regulatory regimes, comprised of national/international, hard/soft, official/in-official ‘legal’ norms? Do these developments merely suggest a reprise of last century’s sociological turn?
The here proposed paper will suggest that there is a significant difference between the current interest of law in sociology (anthropology, geography) and the earlier instance of legal sociology. Whereas historically earlier stances responded, in no small degree, to legal positivism and, eventually, to both technological and societal change, the current social scientific engagement by lawyers appears driven by a differently articulated concern, even anxiety, about the viability of legal analytical, conceptual and semantic tools in a changed, transnational context. With the shift of law’s bearings from the nation-state to globalization’s strange land, law’s need to learn anew and differently can be felt throughout: in textbooks, classrooms, professional ethics and legal practice. In light of interdisciplinarity, legal pluralism and globalization, law’s new frontier might lie in its reconstitution as transnational sociological jurisprudence.
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