Legal Pluralism and the Army: Legal Sociology as Military Sociology

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This Chapter has three primary purposes. First, this Chapter aims to modify debates about legal pluralism by assessing pluralist legal analyses as broad structural accounts of social formation. It addresses theories of legal pluralism in broad terms. It defines such theory as a body of outlooks, beginning in the nineteenth century but still articulated today, which construct law in society as complex, concurrent sets of rules and expectations, emanating from multiple sources and determining different spheres of action, often possessing deep-lying and informal historical origins, and not reducible to official legal codes or statutes. The underlying claim in the Chapter is that theoretical analysis examining the coexistence of plural legal orders in society can be seen, frequently, as a reconstruction of social contexts created by warfare. Accordingly, this Chapter outlines an interpretation of theories of legal pluralism that examines such theories as variants on military sociology. It explains that, in some respects, the military is a constantly present, although only partly visible, focus of agency in theories of legal pluralism. It is often argued that the military dimension of society is neglected in sociology. However, it is argued here that, in its origins, legal sociology as a whole was, at one remove, profoundly concerned with legal phenomena related to the military dimension of society. On this basis, second, this Chapter argues that, if reconstructed in this way, theories of legal pluralism possess a much broader validity than is usually assumed. Such theories do not merely describe legal conditions in discrete parts of modern society. If interpreted in correlation with military sociology, they unearth deep causalities at the core of modern society, and they contain a comprehensive analysis of material social structure. Third, reflecting this thematic focus, this Chapter seeks to add a new element to methodological analysis of legal pluralism. It concludes by indicating how analysis of the relation between legal pluralism and war entails a confluence between pluralist theories and social conflict theories, which are usually positioned in distinct theoretical camps.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCombining the Legal and the Social in Sociology of Law
Subtitle of host publicationAn Homage to Reza Banakar
EditorsHåkan Hydén, Roger Cotterrell, David Nelken, Ulrike Schultz
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherHart Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781509959389
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023

Publication series

NameOñati International Series in Law and Society


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