The Politics of Relevance: Law, Translation and Alternative Knowledges
34 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2013 Last revised: 21 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 15, 2013
In this article, I want to 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 the again growing importance of interdisciplinarity, legal pluralism and globalization, law’s new frontier might lie in its reconstitution as transnational sociological jurisprudence. At the center of such an enterprise lies an engagement with the ways in which legal “fields” are conceptualized and put into practice as determinative translations between competing sets of knowledge. The here made contention is that underneath the shifts between different disciplinary approaches to law in the context of legal sociology, comparative law, post-colonial studies or different iterations of “law and…” (culture, history, anthropology, geography etc.) are longstanding questions regarding law as doctrine, theory, practice, culture. These are re-emerging with particular thrust in the transnational regulatory realm, that is to markedly characterized by the absence of institutional infrastructures known from the Western rule of law and welfare state traditions.
Keywords: politics, law, sociology
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