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Law as Culture:
An Invitation
Lawrence Rosen

Paperback | 2008 | $31.95 | £26.95 | ISBN: 9780691136448
232 pp. | 5 x 8 | 19 halftones.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400887583 |
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Law is integral to culture, and culture to law. Often considered a distinctive domain with strange rules and stranger language, law is actually part of a culture's way of expressing its sense of the order of things. In Law as Culture, Lawrence Rosen invites readers to consider how the facts that are adduced in a legal forum connect to the ways in which facts are constructed in other areas of everyday life, how the processes of legal decision-making partake of the logic by which the culture as a whole is put together, and how courts, mediators, or social pressures fashion a sense of the world as consistent with common sense and social identity.

While the book explores issues comparatively, in each instance it relates them to contemporary Western experience. The development of the jury and Continental legal proceedings thus becomes a story of the development of Western ideas of the person and time; African mediation techniques become tests for the style and success of similar efforts in America and Europe; the assertion that one's culture should be considered as an excuse for a crime becomes a challenge to the relation of cultural norms and cultural diversity.

Throughout the book, the reader is invited to approach law afresh, as a realm that is integral to every culture and as a window into the nature of culture itself.


"Lawrence Rosen exposes as false the view that law is an independent source of truth. Jurisprudence has a tendency to treat law as something given in nature, with a capacity to discern facts and attain absolute truth. This idea Rosen is determined to denounce. . . . Rosen stresses that any uncertainty tends to put the law under cultural pressure. Though Rosen sees law's main function as establishing faith in an orderly universe, he pays due attention to its many areas of uncertainty. . . . [This book] deserve[s] to be widely read."--Mary Douglas, American Interest

"[A]n important book, making it well worthwhile to take time off from thinking about law only as framing structures of domination and as the preserve of a specialist service profession."--Simon Roberts, Modern Law Review

"Using a range of cross-cultural evidence from Europe, Africa, Latin America, and North America, and employing numerous drawings and photographs, he explores how courts, mediation, and law are involved in creating a sense of the world that is consistent with common sense."--Law and Social Inquiry

"Law As Culture is a cultured reading experience in its own right and most suitable for any academic and specialist library collection."--Stuart Hannabuss, Library Review

"Law as Culture is quite appealing in enquiring further and 'elsewhere' the cultural construction of legality. The book can be recommended as a useful introduction to 'cultural studies' and anthropology and remains a beneficial reference to a wide range of academic scholars."--Esther Abin, In-Spire


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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1
CHAPTER 1: Law and Social Control 14
CHAPTER 2: Creating Facts 68
CHAPTER 3: Reason, Power, Law 131
CHAPTER 4: Law as Cosmology 169
Conclusion 198
Further Reading 201
Index 213

This book has been translated into:

  • Chinese simplified
  • Japanese

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File created: 2/10/2017

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