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Legal Theory and the Media of Law

Thomas Vesting

As many disciplines in the humanities have experienced a focus on culture’s impact in recent decades, questions surrounding the significance of media such as writing, print and computer networks have become increasingly relevant. This book seeks to demonstrate that a media and cultural theory perspective can also be highly productive for legal theory.
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Chapter 20: Further exemplary fields

Thomas Vesting


Legal Theory and the Media of Law directs attention to the history of cultural evolution along with the discontinuities that the rise of new media has unleashed in society’s household of meaning. It operates on the assumption that embedded in the process of culture are certain normative orientational achievements that are reproduced outside the more narrowly defined national-legal sphere that national law must yet rely on if it is to successfully establish bonds between individuals. Moreover, Legal Theory and the Media of Law also supposes that the relationship of culture to law has as its flip side the relationship of law to culture. There is an initial distinction to be made between these two relationships. The former is concerned with how law is embedded in the history of cultural evolution, with an understanding of culture as a more or less infinite set of symbolic forms on which law as a normative culture technique is based,1 while the latter refers to the influence on culture of concepts of justice and national law. At the same time, these two relationships oscillate in an interesting way, overlapping and folding into each other at the site of those dense cultural forms that are particularly important for the normative reproduction of modern society. Take the institution of the family, which as Georg Simmel has pointed out must be “psychologically and normatively measured more and more as culture grows,”2 and so as a cultural form must now become an object...

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