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Reflecting on Reflections: The Socio-Legal Scholar and Luhmann

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Abstract:

Socio-legal scholars attracted by Luhmann’s theory face a problem. While the theory offers a compelling account of the nature of the relationship between law and other social systems and provides fresh insights into the limits that exist for law to effect social change, it seems then to prevent them from doing anything about it. Undaunted, some suggest that a new reflexive orientation of law is required in a world understood in autopoietic terms. Others, however, point out that law understood in this way runs counter to the theory. This paper revisits this debate and considers the implications of the theory for the socio-legal scholar: is the reflexive lawyer a heretic, not yet fully up to speed on the theory or simply unable to accept the full force of Luhmann’s account? If the critics of reflexive law are right, does this mean that the reflexive lawyer’s choice is between, on one hand, abandoning any pretence of working with systems theory and, on the other, accepting that the world is not amenable to change even in the modest way that they propose?
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


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MLA Citation:

Paterson, John. "Reflecting on Reflections: The Socio-Legal Scholar and Luhmann" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany, Jul 25, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178256_index.html>

APA Citation:

Paterson, J. , 2007-07-25 "Reflecting on Reflections: The Socio-Legal Scholar and Luhmann" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178256_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Socio-legal scholars attracted by Luhmann’s theory face a problem. While the theory offers a compelling account of the nature of the relationship between law and other social systems and provides fresh insights into the limits that exist for law to effect social change, it seems then to prevent them from doing anything about it. Undaunted, some suggest that a new reflexive orientation of law is required in a world understood in autopoietic terms. Others, however, point out that law understood in this way runs counter to the theory. This paper revisits this debate and considers the implications of the theory for the socio-legal scholar: is the reflexive lawyer a heretic, not yet fully up to speed on the theory or simply unable to accept the full force of Luhmann’s account? If the critics of reflexive law are right, does this mean that the reflexive lawyer’s choice is between, on one hand, abandoning any pretence of working with systems theory and, on the other, accepting that the world is not amenable to change even in the modest way that they propose?

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