The Contested Social

  • John Clarke
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)


In this chapter, I explore some of the promises, possibilities and problems of socio-legal studies. I begin from the transformative promise of its articulating hyphen; consider the critical promise of sociological realism, and its problems; and then turn to the possibilities of treating the social as a governable field. In each of these aspects, I am motivated by an interest in the social as contested: as a field of heterogeneous relationships and divisions that are traversed by conflicting strategies for ordering, and reordering, them. The chapter ends with an argument for thinking about the social conjuncturally, drawing on the work of Raymond Williams. My engagement with these issues is shaped by my work in the cognate academic space (or possibly parallel universe) of social policy, where the problem of being able to address, define and explore the social has been a recurrent issue, albeit one which has usually been left in a default setting where it is assumed that the socialness of some things is obvious and incontestable.


Legal Study Governmental Strategy Unfinished Business Parallel Universe Governmental Project 
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© John Clarke 2013

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  • John Clarke

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