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What Makes a Social Science of Law? Doubling the Social in Socio-Legal Studies

  • Susan S Silbey
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)

Abstract

In this chapter, I explore what makes a social science of law, suggesting that the ‘socio’ in socio-legal refers to the social scientific study of law.1 As a set of interdependent human transactions (i.e. social actions), however, socio-legal studies involves a doubling of the social, both the subject and the method of inquiry. First, socio-legal scholarship investigates the human constitution of law, how human action produces law and legality.2 The second social in socio-legal recognizes this inquiry as a scientific enterprise. As a collective, interdependent, participatory and consensual process, a social science of law is a political and democratic project challenging legal authority to serve similar commitments. Many academics who identify as socio-legal scholars but not as social scientists may challenge my account. Such contestation and debate is welcome and well within the paradigm I am outlining. The first section begins with a general address to the quotidian life and meaning of science, about transparency and consensus in knowledge-making; subsequent sections discuss interpretive methods and theory-building, discussing parallels and differences between socio-legal scholarship and science studies.

Keywords

Tacit Knowledge Legal Text Woman Scientist Social Scientific Study Rightful Place 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Susan S Silbey 2013

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  • Susan S Silbey

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