Edited by Mauro Bussani and Anthony J. Sebok
There can be little doubt that tort law is at the same time a product and a constituent of the very cultural framework in which it is embedded. Yet, as of now tort law’s cultural dimensions have gone largely unexplored. Legal anthropologists’ work on wrongs and compensation has mostly focused on traditional societies in which tort law, as practiced in the West, either plays a minor role or is indistinguishable from what we would dub criminal law. Socio-legal scholars, on their part, have mostly investigated selected Western jurisdictions, seldom venturing beyond the reasons which shape people’s propensity to sue and trust in legal institutions. Other lines of research – such as legal history, law and economics, critical legal studies, and comparative law itself – have helped highlight particular aspects of the historical and cultural embeddedness of tort law adjudication. Most of the time, however, their contributions have remained confined to geographical and/or substantive areas of law, or have addressed, through methodologies specifically tailored to reflect the approaches just mentioned, the current state-of-the-art of knowledge in our field. Combining insights from legal anthropology, socio-legal literature, legal history, and comparative law, we will try to understand the role that, in Western and non-Western legal traditions, tort law plays in responding to and managing social conflicts.
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