Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory
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Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory

Edited by Emilios Christodoulidis, Ruth Dukes and Marco Goldoni

Critical theory, characteristically linked with the politics of theoretical engagement, covers the manifold of the connections between theory and praxis. This thought-provoking Research Handbook captures the broad range of those connections as far as legal thought is concerned and retains an emphasis both on the politics of theory, and on the notion of theoretical engagement. The first part examines the question of definition and tracks the origins and development of critical legal theory along its European and North American trajectories. The second part looks at the thematic connections between the development of legal theory and other currents of critical thought such as; Feminism, Marxism, Critical Race Theory, varieties of post-modernism, as well as the various ‘turns’ (ethical, aesthetic, political) of critical legal theory. The third and final part explores particular fields of law, addressing the question how the field has been shaped by critical legal theory, or what critical approaches reveal about the field, with the clear focus on opportunities for social transformation.
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Chapter 6: Marxism and the political economy of law

Emilios Christodoulidis and Marco Goldoni


The chapter selectively reconstructs the prevalent views on Marxism and the political economy of law with the aim of showing that, despite a number of shortcomings, the Marxist tradition still represents an important contribution to critical thinking. Indeed, the main concern of the chapter is to show that a Marxian approach to the critique of the political economy does not need to collapse law into a deterministic relation with its economic base. In light of this concern, the chapter first tries to vindicate Marxian legal thought against some of the main critiques put forward by legal theorists (especially Kelsen and Schmitt) and then highlights the most important developments in Marxian scholarship during the second half of the twentieth century. The conclusion states the importance of an analysis driven by a core element of a materialist approach to the political economy of law, that is, class struggle, without reducing the latter to its economic determination.

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