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 19: Core sociological theories and international law

Moshe Hirsch


The chapter exposes the three principal perspectives mentioned in the introduction to this volume that are widely recognized in sociological literature: the structural-functional perspective, the symbolic-interactionist approach, and the social conflict perspective. The chapter discusses three general approaches to international law, inspired by the above-mentioned key sociological perspectives, highlighting the sociological dimension of some international legal issues (like the invalidity of treaties, the enforcement of international law, and the structure and flexibility of international legal regimes). The chapter employs those core sociological perspectives to analyse alternative interpretations of the relevant WTO legal provisions regarding the regulation of regional trade agreements, and offers some conclusions regarding the desirable approach in this sphere.

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