A question of definition: feminist legal scholarship, socio-legal studies and debate about law and politics
Murphy, Thérèse and Whitty, Noel (2006) A question of definition: feminist legal scholarship, socio-legal studies and debate about law and politics. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 57 (3). pp. 539-556. ISSN 0029-3105
In recent years, debate about the relationship between law and politics appears to have become a good deal more intense in the United Kingdom. As others have observed, one major catalyst for this has been the ascent of human rights in the popular imagination and in national, and international, legal and political orders. The problem, however, is that this development also has the capacity to skew the debate: it threatens not just the already-weakened claim that `law is politics' but also, if left unchecked, it could deepen the neglect of two questions that ought to be at the heart of debate about law and politics: namely, the question of law, and the question of the political. In this article, we offer a perspective on this problem. We propose that one way of minimising it would be to have a broader definition of what counts as scholarship relevant to the question of the law/politics relationship. The redefinition we propose focuses specifically on two respected traditions in contemporary legal scholarship: the first of these is socio-legal scholarship, the second is feminist legal scholarship. The particular strength of these traditions, we suggest, is that they would encourage a broader perspective on the complexity of law and of the political.
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