Law, Society, and Economy: Centenary Essays for the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1895-1995

By Richard Rawlings | Go to book overview

1
Distinction and Diversity: Law and the LSE*

RICHARD RAWLINGS

In 1995 the London School of Economics and Political Science became a centenarian. This was naturally an occasion for commemoration and celebration: of monochrome and necrology on the one hand, and alumni events and fund-raising on the other. The Law Department agreed that it also be taken as the opportunity for a scholarly enterprise. A special set of public lectures was organised, involving a range of LSE and non-LSE participants with interesting and relevant things to say. This volume in large measure1 is the product of that design.

The tradition of law at the School is a considerable one. Simply expressed, it has taken as a core belief, appropriately nurtured in a school of social sciences, that law should be treated, both in research and teaching, as a social phenomenon.2 In historical terms, we might describe this as an alternative tradition: alternative, that is, both to the expository Austinian and to the craft or practitioner traditions, classically associated with the (English) common law mind. It has involved particular commitments to a functional or contextual approach to legal analysis; to teaching and research in the whole range of legal regulation and provision; and to law reform. Yet the rubric is clearly too broad, the idea happily too rich, to admit of a single project, let alone a final resolution. As this volume surely illustrates, strength in diversity is an essential feature of the enterprise.

To this effect the contributors to Law, Society and Economy have been given a broad discretion. Each of them, however, has been chosen to reflect an aspect of the tradition. Again, some of them have chosen to reflect on aspects of the contribution to legal studies made at the School.

It is appropriate then to open this collection of essays with a discussion of the broad institutional development, and one which makes reference to the

____________________
*
I would like to thank Angela Raspin and Toby O'Reilly for their assistance with the historical records. I am also grateful to Cyril Glasser, John Griffith and Carol Harlow for their help.
1
The volume contains as additions the contributions by Ross Cranston, Cyril Glasser and Carol Harlow, John Griffith, and myself.
2
W. Cornish, "'LSE and the Law'", LSE Centenary Review ( 1995) 14.

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