Global Bukowina: Legal Pluralism in the World-Society

GLOBAL LAW WITHOUT A STATE, Gunther Teubner, ed., Dartsmouth, pp. 3-28, 1996

22 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2006 Last revised: 8 Sep 2009

See all articles by Gunther Teubner

Gunther Teubner

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität

Date Written: 1996


There are a number of inchoate forms of global law, none of which are the creations of states. In relation to them I wish to develop three arguments:

1. Global law can only be adequately explained by a theory of legal pluralism which turned from the law of colonial societies to the laws of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious communities in modern nation-states. It needs to make another turn - from groups to discourses. It should focus its attention on a new body of law that emerges from various globalization processes in multiple sectors of civil society independently of the laws of the nation states.

2. The emerging global (not inter-national!) law is a legal order in its own right which should not be measured against the standards of national legal systems. It is not - as is usually understood - an underdeveloped body of law which has certain structural deficiencies in comparison to national law. Rather, its peculiar characteristics as fully fledged law distinguishes it from the traditional law of the nation states. These characteristics can be explained by differentiation within world society itself. While global law lacks political and institutional support on the global level, it is closely coupled with globalized socio-economic processes.

3. Its relative distance from international politics will not protect global law from its re-politicization. On the contrary, the very reconstruction of social and economic (transactions as a global legal process undermines its non-political character and is the basis of its repoliticization. Yet this will occur in new and unexpected ways. We can expect global law to become politicized not via traditional political institutions but within the various processes under which law engages in 'structural coupling' with highly specialized discourses.

Keywords: legal theory, system theory

JEL Classification: K10, K40

Suggested Citation

Teubner, Gunther, Global Bukowina: Legal Pluralism in the World-Society (1996). GLOBAL LAW WITHOUT A STATE, Gunther Teubner, ed., Dartsmouth, pp. 3-28, 1996, Available at SSRN:

Gunther Teubner (Contact Author)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität ( email )

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