Theorising Across Disciplines
Elgar Studies in Legal Theory
Edited by Roger Cotterrell and Maksymilian Del Mar
Chapter 6: The evolution of global legal pluralism
Global legal pluralism is now recognized as an entrenched reality of the international and transnational legal order. Indeed, wherever one looks, there is conflict among multiple legal regimes. Some of these regimes are state-based, some are built and maintained by non-state actors, some fall within the purview of local authorities and jurisdictional entities, and some involve international courts, tribunals, arbitral bodies, and regulatory organizations. It has been approximately 20 years since scholars first began pushing the insights of legal pluralism into the transnational and international arena. During those two decades, a rich body of work has established pluralism as a useful descriptive and normative framework for understanding a world of overlapping jurisdictional assertions, both state and non-state. Indeed, there has been a veritable explosion of scholarly work on legal pluralism, soft law, global constitutionalism, the relationships among relative authorities, and the fragmentation and reinforcement of territorial boundaries. Thus, the time has come for a survey and analysis of this literature in order to understand the evolution of global legal pluralism as a scholarly trope. In this chapter, I seek to begin such a task by separating out some of the descriptive and normative strands in the scholarly discourse. In addition, I tackle challenges and criticisms of global legal pluralism and aim to refine the field based on recent research. The result, I hope, will be to re-energize and engage global legal pluralism scholarship and push its trajectory forward into another two decades of innovation.
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