© 2016

Unleashing the Force of Law

Legal Mobilization, National Security, and Basic Freedoms


  • Winner of the Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship 2017

  • Will appeal to a wide global readership due to its interdisciplinary and comparative approach

  • Contributes to the important debate about what constitutes the 'rule of law'

  • A timely addition to the growing literature on the sociology of the legal profession


Part of the Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Introduction

    1. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 1-19
  3. The Political Context of National Security and the Juridical Field

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 21-22
    2. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 23-39
    3. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 40-57
  4. The Nature and Extent of Legal Mobilization

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 59-60
    2. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 61-76
    3. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 77-93
    4. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 94-112
  5. The Strategies and Outcomes of Legal Mobilization

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 129-130
    2. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 131-150
    3. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 151-180
  6. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 181-181
    2. Devyani Prabhat
      Pages 183-195
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 196-225

About this book


Basic freedoms cannot be abandoned in times of conflict, or can they? Are basic freedoms routinely forsaken during times when there are national security concerns? These questions present different conundrums for the legal profession, which generally values basic freedoms but is also part of the architecture of emergency legal frameworks.


Unleashing the Force of Law uses multi-jurisdiction empirical data and draws on cause lawyering, political lawyering and Bourdieusian juridical field literature to analyze the invocation of legal norms aimed at the protection of basic freedoms in times of national security tensions. It asks three main questions about the protection of basic freedoms. First, when do lawyers mobilize for the protection of basic freedoms? Second, in what kind of mobilization do they engage? Third, how do the strategies they adopt relate to the outcomes they achieve?


Covering the last five decades, the book focusses on the 1980s and the Noughties through an analysis of legal work for two groups of independence seekers in the 1980s, namely, Republican (mostly Catholic) separatists in Northern Ireland and Puerto Rican separatists in the US, and on post-9/11 issues concerning basic freedoms in both countries


cause lawyering civil liberties human rights legal mobilization socio-legal studies Rule of law cause lawyering civil liberties English human rights Institution law legal mobilization socio-legal studies work

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of Bristol Law SchoolUK

About the authors

Devyani Prabhat is a Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Bristol, UK. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Unleashing the Force of Law
  • Book Subtitle Legal Mobilization, National Security, and Basic Freedoms
  • Authors Devyani Prabhat
  • Series Title Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Law and Criminology Law and Criminology (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-45573-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-92811-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-45574-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 225
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics International Humanitarian Law, Law of Armed Conflict
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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It is superb … a model piece of comparative legal sociology, addressing a really important set of questions.' Steven Lukes, New York University, USA