Globalization And Law In Everyday Life

2269 words - 10 pages


Globalization and Law in Everyday Life

Since the early 1980s, a vast scholarly literature has explored the subject of globalization in its many manifestations. As a part of this burgeoning field of inquiry, law and society researchers have discovered numerous aspects of transnational legal behavior that are worthy of attention. Their research has offered new explanations for sociolegal change that previously eluded scholars who too narrowly focused on the nation-state as the primary unit of analysis. Nevertheless, law and society research has focused primarily on transnational interactions and global actors and has paid less attention to the implications ...view middle of the document...

A body of theory has thus emerged that suggests globalization is not simply economic "development" or "modernization" by a different name. It has to do with the transformation of lived experience, with new forms of consciousness arising out of new technologies that have diminished the barriers of time and space that previously separated distant people, cultures, and activities. These transformations have produced new ways of living and thinking that connect individuals and groups more directly to others around the world, breaching the boundaries of community and nation that formerly contained people and practices within established political-legal jurisdictions. For sociolegal scholars, these developments have created new opportunities to study transnational actors, organizations, and "legal fields" that have emerged in the new spaces created by globalization.

Law and society scholars who have tackled the subject of globalization have been drawn to actors who are most clearly caught up in transnational networks and who are often themselves the agents of globalization. Typically, these actors are social elites or members of the upper middle class. Somewhat less attention has been given to the consequences of globalization for the practices of ordinary people who have little to do with international institutions, transnational lawyers, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In this sense, there is a discontinuity between sociolegal research on globalization and the well-established line of law and society research dealing with legal consciousness and law in everyday life. This line of research reaches back to the earliest law and society scholarship. It responds to the promptings of Eugen Ehrlich (1862-1922) to conduct research on "the living law" as well as the written law, and the promptings of the American legal realists to study the "law in action" as well as the "law on the books." It also draws on classic legal ethnographies by writers such as R. F. Barton (1883-1947), Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942), A. R. Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955), Karl Llewellyn (1893-1962), E. Adamsom Hoebel (1906-1993), Max Gluckman (1911-1975), Paul Bohannan, and others, which stand as examples for law and society scholars seeking to study local-level legal cultures in all societies, including those of North America, Great Britain, and Europe.

A key transition point in the evolution of law and society scholarship occurred when Stewart Macaulay demonstrated how sociolegal researchers in all disciplines and in any geographic location could adapt legal ethnographic techniques to study legal orders based on norms of interaction, even in industrialized or "developed" societies. Drawing inspiration from Malinowski's study of customary law among villagers in the Trobriand Islands, Macaulay's interview-based research suggested that Wisconsin businessmen tended to avoid the formal law...


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