The Law, Culture & Ideas (LCI) blog is intended to develop critical discussion and conversations about law and its legal culture(s) from a critical theoretical perspective. We aim to explore fresh ideas disrupting the comfort of shared ‘common sense’ of law, locating law in the field of humanities,  and look to ideas that challenge the overwhelming consensus of perceptions and unseen ideology.

We make no apology  for adopting an interdisciplinary approach.  The matters we would like to examine include questions of law, society and aesthetics, justice, philosophy of law, politics and cultures of law. The blog seeks to illuminate significant legal, socio-political issues and trends.

What is legal culture and why do we refer to legal cultures?

The notion of legal culture or culture of law, can be perceived in numerous enticing meanings and senses. It can refer to writing about a legal tradition, structures of legal institutions and actors of law, or in a wider sense an understanding of law such as “law in action” or “living law”.

Perhaps Ralf Michaels [1] best summarises the variety of indeterminate understanding of legal culture(s)  to include “specific concepts…Legal sociologists… understand legal culture as the values, ideas and attitudes that a society has with respect to its law (Lawrence M. Friedman, James Q. Whitman). Sometimes legal culture itself is seen as a value and placed in opposition to the barbarism of totalitarianism (Peter Häberle); here, legal culture is used synonymously with the rule of law. Others understand culture as certain modes of thinking; they speak of episteme or mentalité (Pierre Legrand), legal knowledge (Annelise Riles)and collective memory (Niklas Luhmann), law in the minds (William Ewald) or even cosmology (Rebecca French, Lawrence Rosen). In addition, an anthropologically influenced understanding exists of legal culture as the practice of law (Clifford Geertz).
Sometimes, borders are fluid, both among these concepts themselves and between them and other concepts such as legal ideology (Roger Cotterell) or legal tradition (H. Patrick Glenn, Reinhard Zimmermann). Some definitions bring different aspects together. Mark van Hoecke and Mark Warrington, for example, name six elements: legal terminology, legal sources, legal methods, theory of argumentation, legitimising of the law and common general ideology. A similar combination of disparate elements underlies the definition of the styles of legal families (Konrad Zweigert, Oliver Remien).”

[1] Ralf Michaels Forthcoming in Oxford Handbook of European Private Law (Basedow, Hopt, Zimmermann eds., Oxford University Press) at http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3012&context=faculty_scholarship

We happily adopt the numerous senses attached to the terms legal culture and invite contributions from those interested in questions of law, culture and ideas.

Copyright in contributions to the LCI blog belong to the individual author, to whom any requests to republish should be addressed. The opinions and analysis contained in blog posts and comments are those of the individual authors.



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