Law as Social Discourse I

A Topology of Discourse
  • Peter Goodrich
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


The project of delineating and presenting a concept of legal discourse or materialist rhetoric of law, as an alternative form, or political instrument for the analysis of legal relations, raises a series of problems. Not least the concept of discourse itself, and the various contemporary interdisciplinary uses of a method of discourse analysis as the appropriate tool of critical theory have lent the term a certain fashionable if diffuse currency. The invocation of, or recourse to, the terminology of discourse or of discourse analysis, however, is unfortunately considerably more frequent than any systematic or indeed coherent examination of the requisite methodology or critical limitation of the concept itself. In the broadest and loosest of terms, the concept of discourse can be applied to any sequence of utterances at the level of the sentence or above.’ In potential it thus ranges in scope from the seemingly universal problems of the structural features of culture, communication and ideology as the intrinsic problems of the theory of discourse, right the way down to the minute questions of the syntactic and semantic analysis of the specific, historically singular, text or utterance, studied in discourse analysis.


Discourse Analysis Language System Legal Text Legal Discourse Syntactic Feature 
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Notes and References

  1. 7.
    Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence ( Moscow: Progress Publishing, 1964 ) pp. 541–2.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Such I take to be one of the few points well made in D. Silverman and B. Torode, The Material Word (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980) PP. 6–8.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    R. M. Unger, ‘The Critical Legal Studies Movement’ (1983) 96, Harvard Law Review, 561, p. 587.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    W. Benjamin, One Way Street ( London: New Left Books, 1979 ) pp. 349–61.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    See for example, M. C. Beardsley, ‘Metaphor’ in Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1967) 5, p. 284;Google Scholar
  6. M. Black, Models and Metaphors (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962 ) or P. Strawson, Individuals ( London: Methuen, 1959 ).Google Scholar
  7. J. Lacan, Ecrits ( London: Tavistock, 1977 );Google Scholar
  8. C. Metz, Psychoanalysis and Cinema ( London: Macmillan, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    See generally, the remarks made in P. Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978) pp. 66 et seq.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    E. Benveniste, Problems in General Linguistics (Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami Press, 1971 ).Google Scholar
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    Jakobson, Linguistics ( The Hague: Mouton, 1970 ) p. 458.Google Scholar
  12. 58.
    T. A. van Dijk, Some Aspects of Text Grammar (The Hague: Mouton, 1972) pp. 1–12, 26–33.Google Scholar
  13. 59.
    Additionally, cf. R. Hasson, Grammatical Cohesion in Spoken English (London: Longmans, 1968); and more generally, M. A. K. Halliday, Language as Social Semiotic chapter 7.Google Scholar
  14. 90.
    M. Foucault, Power/Knowledge ( Brighton: Harvester Press, 1980 ) p. 131.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Goodrich 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Goodrich
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Newcastle-upon-TyneUK

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