What is Left of the Law and Society Paradigm after Critique? Revisiting Gordon's “Critical Legal Histories”
Article first published online: 29 DEC 2011
© 2011 American Bar Foundation.
Law & Social Inquiry
Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 155–166, Winter 2012
How to Cite
Tomlins, C. (2012), What is Left of the Law and Society Paradigm after Critique? Revisiting Gordon's “Critical Legal Histories”. Law & Social Inquiry, 37: 155–166. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-4469.2011.01280.x
- Issue published online: 23 FEB 2012
- Article first published online: 29 DEC 2011
For more than twenty-five years, Robert Gordon's “Critical Legal Histories” has been savored by legal historians as one of the most incisive explanations available of what legal history can and should be. Gordon's essay, however, is of significance to the course of sociolegal studies in general. This commentary offers an appreciation, and a critique, of “Critical Legal Histories.” It explores Gordon's articulation of the central themes of critical legal studies, in particular his corrosion of functionalism and embrace of the indeterminacy thesis, and assesses the consequences for sociolegal and legal-historical analysis of the resultant stress on the contingency and complexity of social life.