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

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

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

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

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

The original essays published here emphasize the central role played by the legal profession in the emergence of modern political liberalism. This book is premised on a series of arguments: in particular, that current views of the role of lawyers and the professions neglect the role of politics, fail to do justice to a detailed and systematically historical perspective, and have created a literature rather dominated by AngloAmerican conceptions of professionalism which themselves tend to emphasize the centrality of the market. The result is a collection that challenges many of the generally accepted ideas about the legal profession and presents a series of' critical analyses that display the range of lawyers' activities which have contributed to the development of the liberal state.

The editors of this volume have planned and organized it with exceptional care, and the papers themselves represent an extraordinary international collaborative effort. Their stimulus was the work of a number of scholars who have been part of the Working Group on Comparative Studies of Legal Professions of the International Sociological Association. The resultant collection is comprised of essays by leading academics in a number of countries, and their focus is the legal professions in France, England, Germany, and the United States. Each country is represented by a pair of papers, one historical, one sociological. These papers are in turn introduced and set in a common theoretical framework by the editors, who also complete the collection with a substantial concluding reflection. The result is an impressive symmetry in the structure of the work which grants it an internal coherence rare in such edited works. The book is a model of what a collection of original pieces by different authors should be.

This volume has a number of new and significant things to say about the political importance of lawyers and their part in the rise of modern, liberal societies. Socio-legal scholars, and especially those interested in the legal profession, will find here a book that is full of important insights and new ideas.

Keith Hawkins . . .

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