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 9: Reflexive sociology of international law: Pierre Bourdieu and the globalization of law

Mikael Rask Madsen


Pierre Bourdieu has become one of the most celebrated and cited sociologists over the past 30 years. His work has influenced a striking number of academic subfields, including the sociology of law. There are roughly two ways in which Bourdieu has influenced the sociology law: a softer influence via the adaptation of some of his key concepts to a variety of studies and a hard influence in terms of the production of genuinely Bourdieusian studies of law. This chapter discusses the latter. Building on extensive empirical studies of a host of different fields of international law, this chapter first outlines the contours of Bourdieu’s general sociology of law. It then turns to questions of the making of the ‘international’ by legal agency and how, particularly, the notion of field can help structure such an inquiry. Against this background, the chapter then proceeds to outline concrete research strategies for Bourdieusian field studies of international law. It concludes with a discussion of particular challenges of sociological engagements with law.

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