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 16: Ideology and argument construction in contract law

Richard Michael Fischl

Abstract

This chapter explores the various insights that critical legal theory can bring to a study of contract law, using the doctrine of promissory estoppel as its principal example. It begins by contrasting mainstream, legal realist and critical ‘stories’ about the history and role of the doctrine in American contract law. The aim here is to highlight the contributions of the critical tradition to pedagogy as well as legal theory. Those contributions are then brought to bear on a critical study of the Local 1330 case, a storied challenge to the closing of a pair of aging steel plants in the industrial Midwest nearly four decades ago.

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