Writing beyond distinctions

Authored by: Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos

Routledge Handbook of Socio-Legal Theory and Methods

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138592902
eBook ISBN: 9780429952814
Adobe ISBN:


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Legal research is increasingly moving beyond traditional distinctions between socio-legal and critical legal thinking, black letter law and legal context analysis, ‘practical’ law and ‘theoretical’ justice, ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ modes of writing, and so on. Large parts of new legal research are moving towards an emplaced, embodied and material understanding of law that is both about the law itself and its theoretical and social context. In this chapter, I argue that this move should also be reflected not just in what we write, but also in the way we write. I offer some observations on why these distinctions have already become obsolete in legal writing practice, despite the fact that they are unconsciously still practised by most of us. I then suggest a few ways in which legal writing can move further in this theoretically rich yet emplaced and contextualised direction. Some of the most important steps are: to rethink of the essay as truly an essay (i.e., trial, experiment); to take risks by not striving for consistency above all but by allowing the text to unfold as a body in itself and a legal agent; to reserve a prominent position for the ‘I’ in its affective, multiple presence; and to embrace the collective urge towards a more just law. I conclude by summing up the most important distinctions that we need to overcome and by revisiting perhaps the ultimate distinction between law and justice.

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