About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

45 Law & Soc. Inquiry 539 (2020)
Still Afraid of Legal Pluralism? Encountering Santi Romano

handle is hein.journals/lsociq45 and id is 548 raw text is: 

Law  &  Social Inquiry                                           Social
Volume  45, Issue 2, 539-558, May 2020                           Inquiry

Review Symposium: Law and Society Meets

Still Afraid of Legal Pluralism? Encountering

     Santi Romano

                                                                  Roger Cotterrell

ROMANO,  SANTI. The Legal Order. 2nd ed. Translated by MARIANO CROCE. New   York /
        Abingdon,  UK:  Routledge, 2017.

        The  second edition of Santi Romano's book, The Legal Order, now appearing in its first
    English translation (2017), is a pioneer text of legal pluralism. Its interest lies in its extreme
    radicalism and in the fact that, although it is written by a lawyer, its argument has many
    important political implications and addresses core conceptual issues in contemporary socio-
    legal studies of legal pluralism. The social and political context of Romano's book in early
    twentieth-century Italy is far from being solely of historical interest. Issues that surrounded
    his juristic thinking in its time resonate with important political and social issues of today.


     Who's  afraid of legal pluralism? asks an influential article (Benda-Beckmann
2002). The  answer, it seems, is still-quite a lot of people. Lawyers especially, as well
as some social scientists whose research interests are in law.
     Legal pluralism is variously defined as a situation in which two or more legal sys-
tems coexist in the same social field (Merry 1988, 870); the coexistence of a plurality
of different legal orders with links between them (Arnaud 1995, 150); or the state of
affairs in which a category of social relations is within the field of operation of two or
more  bodies of legal norms (Woodman  1997,  157). But the term is not always used
descriptively. It often indicates a normative problem: how to manage juristically a plu-
rality of competing legal orders, systems, or bodies of law existing at the same time and
in the same place but in radically unclear relation to each other.
     For lawyers the idea of legal pluralism can certainly be disturbing. It can suggest
laws in unresolvable conflict or endless competition so that the question of what law
should apply, and when, might no longer be answerable using orthodox legal method-
ology. It can suggest legal insecurity, even chaos. And it can put in issue the often taken
for granted idea that it is the state and no other institution that creates and controls law.
     The situation that legal pluralism suggests is one of possible conflict between legal
systems or orders, or sets of legal rules or norms, each making independent claims to

    Roger Cotterrell is Anniversary Professor of Legal Theory, Queen Mary University of London, UK.
He is grateful to Maksymilian Del Mar, Sally Engle Merry and Edoardo Fittipaldi for valuable comments on
an earlier draft of this essay, r.b.m.cotterrell~gmul.ac.uk.

© 2019 American Bar Foundation.


What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most