Chapter 8: The bearable lightness of relationality: actor-network-theory as a mode of comparative law
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Comparative law tables play a prominent role in the formulation of public policies on bioethical issues. They are a means of identifying normative commonalities that in turn help to map out the positions that different jurisdictions have assumed or can adopt. Comparative law that is applied to this effect tends to treat jurisdictions that are compared as discrete and self-sufficient containers of normative understanding and practices. While there may be good reasons to present comparative law (and resulting tables) simplistically in policy documents, the actual comparative work that takes place outside of public view tends to be more intricate and complex. Arguably, back-stage comparative work is better described by another comparative approach known as Actor-Network-Theory (ANT). ANT works differently in undermining nationalistic boundary and explicitly foregrounding different relationalities that are implicit in comparative work. This chapter explains these two descriptive approaches to doing comparative law and the implications of deploying each approach.

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