Research Handbook on the Sociology of International Law
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Research Handbook on the Sociology of International Law

Edited by Moshe Hirsch and Andrew Lang

Bringing together a highly diverse body of scholars, this comprehensive Research Handbook explores recent developments at the intersection of international law, sociology and social theory. It showcases a wide range of methodologies and approaches, including those inspired by traditional social thought as well as less familiar literature, including computational linguistics, performance theory and economic sociology. The Research Handbook highlights anew the potential contribution of sociological methods and theories to the study of international law, and illustrates their use in the examination of contemporary problems of practical interest to international lawyers.
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Chapter 2: Issues of empire, contestation, and hierarchy in the globalization of law

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.

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