This chapter presents an overview, defence, and critical reconstruction of Evgeny Pashukanis’ commodity-form theory of law. Pashukanis’ theory is characterised by an emphasis on the legal form - as distinct from both its content (particular legal rules) and its function (reproducing or maintaining capitalism). Pashukanis takes the legal form to be an historically specific form of regulating social relations. The first part of the chapter states the basic theory, showing how it builds upon Marx’s theory of the commodity to theorise the legal form, formal legal equality, and the basic categories of private and public law under capitalism. The second part explores some of the criticisms and debates this theory has attracted, as well as a brief attempt to reconstruct Pashukanis’ conception of a post-capitalist and post-legal form of social regulation.
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