Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law
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Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law

Edited by Gareth Davies and Matej Avbelj

The Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law explores the diversity of phenomenon of overlapping legal systems within the European Union, the nature of their interactions, and how they deal with the difficult question of the legal hierarchy between them. The contributors reflect on the history, sociology and legal scholarship on constitutional and legal pluralism, and develop this further in the light of the challenges currently facing the EU.
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Chapter 14: Of politics and pluralism: governmentality and the EU legal order

Jessica Lawrence


This chapter begins from the premise that pluralism is not just a descriptive term, but a normative one. As a normative label, pluralism does more than simply claim that unresolved systems are desirable; it also marks certain subjects as the legitimate targets of a centralized legal or political order, and others as legitimately governed through decentralized systems of legal or political control. In doing so, it defines what things “we” have in common, and what things we do not. Framing systemic conflict as an example of legal pluralism (rather than simply as illegitimate or illegal according to a centralized norm) thereby justifies particular allocations of power and authority. And these claims about who “we” are and what forms of government are “legitimate” are in turn related to our underlying ideas about human behavior, the purpose of government, and the appropriate means and ends of power.

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