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The Making Of Law : An Ethnography Of The Conseil D'etat Paperback

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AuthorBruno Latour
PublisherPolity Press
Publication Date07-Jan-10
Book DescriptionIn this book, Bruno Latour pursues his ethnographic inquiries into the different value systems of modern societies. After science, technology, religion, art, it is now law that is being studied by using the same comparative ethnographic methods. The case study is the daily practice of the French supreme courts, the Conseil d'Etat, specialized in administrative law (the equivalent of the Law Lords in Great Britain). Even though the French legal system is vastly different from the Anglo-American tradition and was created by Napoleon Bonaparte at the same time as the Code-based system, this branch of French law is the result of a home-grown tradition constructed on precedents. Thus, even though highly technical, the cases that form the matter of this book, are not so exotic for an English-speaking audience. What makes this study an important contribution to the social studies of law is that, because of an unprecedented access to the collective discussions of judges, Latour has been able to reconstruct in detail the weaving of legal reasoning: it is clearly not the social that explains the law, but the legal ties that alter what it is to be associated together. It is thus a major contribution to Latour's social theory since it is now possible to compare the ways legal ties build up associations with the other types of connection that he has studied in other fields of activity. His project of an alternative interpretation of the very notion of society has never been made clearer than in this work. To reuse the title of his first book, this book is in effect the 'Laboratory Life of Law'.
Editorial ReviewWhat is legal reasoning? In this lively ethnography, Bruno Latour examines the almost physical work of intertextuality at the Conseil d'Etat, the French supreme court. With his inimitable verve, he shows the fragility and flexibility that secures the force of law.' David Stark, Columbia University "What if our most subtle observer-theorist of socially constructed knowledge were given total access to a secret, powerful legal institution? The answer to this fantasy of legal scholars is The Making of Law, Bruno Latour's brilliant account of his philosophical fieldwork inside the French council of state. What he finds - the alchemical refinement of legal issues to the point of a purportedly pure legality - will be fascinating for lawyers, comparativists, anthropologists, political scientists, and anyone who cares about how law is made." Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School "A completely compelling account of the workings of French administrative law - surely never so closely observed as here - that joins with reflections on scientific authority to initiate comparative anthropology 'all over again'. And we do not have to ask where 'society' is: The Making of Law brilliantly exemplifies the making of society." Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge
About the AuthorBruno Latour is Professor of Sociology at Ecoles des mines, Paris.
Number of Pages280

The Making Of Law : An Ethnography Of The Conseil D'etat Paperback

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