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Bryant G. Garth

This chapter seeks to provide a sociological perspective that is typically absent from discussions of international law. Drawing on Bourdieu’s sociological approach and collaborative work with Yves Dezalay, the chapter looks critically at the progressive narrative which characterizes much of the literature on the globalization of law. That narrative both describes and promotes a phenomenon variously termed judicialization, legalization, or legal globalization. The starting point of this chapter is resistance to the received and seemingly neutral categories of that narrative – norms, hard law, soft law, courts – that, from an alternative sociological perspective, obscure hierarchies, competition, and contested imperial processes. Drawing on historical work and an analysis of recent works focused on the politics or sociology of phenomena depicted as legal globalization, the chapter seeks to show how the progressive narrative itself is the product and stakes of continuing imperial and professional competitions.