Vulnerability, Access to Justice, and the Fragmented State

54 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2018 Last revised: 26 Jul 2018

See all articles by Elizabeth L. MacDowell

Elizabeth L. MacDowell

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Abstract

This Article builds on theories of the fragmented state and of human and institutional vulnerability to create a new, structural theory of “functional fragmentation” and its role in access to justice work. Expanding on previous concepts of fragmentation in access to justice scholarship, fragmentation is understood in the Article as a complex phenomenon existing within as well as between state institutions like courts. Further, it is examined in terms of its relationship to the state’s coercive power over poor people in legal systems. In this view, fragmentation in state operations creates not only challenges for access, but also opportunities for resistance, resilience, and justice. Focusing on problem-solving courts, and family courts in particular, the Article examines the intersection of human and institutional vulnerability within legal institutions and provides a framework for identifying ways to create greater access to justice. The Article contributes to state theory and the feminist theory of vulnerability, while providing a new way to understand and address an increasingly coercive state and its punitive effects on low-income people.

Keywords: fragmentation, delegalization, access to justice, domestic violence, child support, vulnerability theory, delegalized, problem solving court, family court, mediation, dispute resolution

Suggested Citation

MacDowell, Elizabeth Lillian, Vulnerability, Access to Justice, and the Fragmented State. Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Vol. 23, No. 1-2, p. 51, 2018; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3217152

Elizabeth Lillian MacDowell (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States
702-895-2080 (Phone)

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