Lawyers and the Rise of Western Political Liberalism: Europe and North America from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries


In contrast to other theories of legal professions, which neglect politics, this volume advances a political theory of lawyers' collective action by demonstrating lawyers' influence on the emergence and development of western political liberalism. Four sociologists and four historians show how layers, over several centuries, have been variously committed to the building of liberal political society in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. The introductory chapters, written by the editors, present a theoretical argument that integrates the historical and comparative studies of lawyers' engagement in three areas of liberal politics: the constitution of the moderate state, the institutions of civil society, and the constitution of individual rights. The editors conclude the book with an essay on lawyers' historical involvements in political globalization. This fresh interpretation not only demonstrates the variety of relationships between lawyers and politics, but it delineates issues, concepts, and a theory that helps understand the current action of lawyers in new democracies.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Keith Hawkins
  • Terence C. Halliday
  • Lucien Karpik
  • Dietrich Rueschemeyer
  • Kenneth F. Ledford
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford
Publication year:
  • 1997


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