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 7: Critical theory of the state

Bob Jessop


Critical state theoretical perspectives on law address the differentiation and articulation of constitutional, private and public law with the state, civil society and capitalist market economy. Adopting a strategic-relational approach, this chapter focuses on five representative critical theorists: Karl Marx, Evgeny Pashukanis, Antonio Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas and Michel Foucault. Key issues for all five included the historical specificity of the state and law in capitalist formations; the institutional boundaries of the state (including the division between the public and private spheres) and the capitalist market economy; the relation between the form and functions of the state and law in normal and crisis periods; the relation between legality and illegality in the exercise of state power; and the implications of historical and recent changes in capitalism and its contradictions, crisis tendencies and conflicts for the changing form and content of law and state power.

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