Globalization and legal change: The “Americanization” of European law?

Authors

  • Robert A. Kagan

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Political Science and School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
      Professor Robert A. Kagan, Department of Political Science and School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-2150, USA. Email: rak@berkeley.edu
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Professor Robert A. Kagan, Department of Political Science and School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-2150, USA. Email: rak@berkeley.edu

Abstract

Intensified global economic competition, economic liberalization, and the rise of EU governance have led some observers to argue that there has been a trend toward the “Americanization” of the European “way of law.” This article addresses that contention, focusing on legal change in European member states. It first describes ways in which the American legal tradition has differed most sharply from the national legal systems of Western Europe (including Great Britain) and the political and economic factors that account for this “American legal distinctiveness.” Similar political and economic factors currently are at work in Europe, the article acknowledges, creating incentives for legal convergence. But it also argues that European legal culture and the political organization of European national states generate path-dependent forces that impede European movement toward American ways of law, and it discusses six important differences between European and American law that remain entrenched and are unlikely to disappear.

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