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 19: Critical labour law: then and now

Ruth Dukes


In this chapter, the mainstream, critical tradition in labour law is elaborated by way of the identification and discussion of four key elements of that tradition. These are (i) a (partial) rejection of the public/private divide in law; (ii) a commitment to legal pluralism; (iii) legal scepticism; and (iv) the adoption of sociolegal methods. In the second part of the chapter, I explain the threat posed in recent decades to the continued viability of systems of labour law that are broadly protective of workers’ interests, and emancipatory of workers, by myriad pressures associated with globalization and deindustrialization. Again, discussion proceeds by way of consideration of the four key elements of the critical tradition identified in Part I. The main question addressed is how scholars have sought to adapt their approaches and methods so as to continue to make interventions that are critical in nature and concerned, still, with the transformative potential of labour law.

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