Law As Object of Attachment: From Durkheim to the Simpson Trials and Back Again
Presented at the Law and Society Association Meetings, St Louis, Missouri, May 30 1997, and at the Nordic Forum for the Sociology of Law, Landskrona, Sweden, June 9 1997.
27 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2020
Date Written: 1997
This previously unpublished paper explores three themes relevant to current socio-legal research. First, it addresses, from a Durkheimian perspective and using a concrete judicial illustration, relationships between popular convictions and the communicative responsibilities of courts. Second, it examines the ambiguities and contradictions of Durkheim’s idea of individualism as a unifying value system (partly expressed in terms of human rights) for contemporary societies. Third, it attempts to show, in a specific empirical context, the theoretical significance of Durkheim’s still often underestimated sociology of law and morals for current socio-legal research and legal theory.
‘Postmodernism’ has lost ground as an analytical framework in legal debate, and the sensational criminal case referred to in the paper is now a historical reference rather than, as it was at the time of writing, a legal event dominating public opinion in unprecedented fashion. However, the central themes of the paper retain their salience for contemporary socio-legal inquiry.
Keywords: Durkheim, judicial process, moral individualism, O. J. Simpson, popular legal consciousness, sociology of law
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