Law’s Truths and the Truth About Law: Interdisciplinary Refractions

Authored by: Margaret Davies

The Ashgate Research Companion to Feminist Legal Theory

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409418597
eBook ISBN: 9781315612973
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043423


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Feminism is not the product of any one academic discipline and indeed has often contested disciplinary boundaries in the interests of illustrating the presence of gender and its effects across all areas of social, symbolic, political and economic life. Feminist legal thought has, like most academic feminism, drawn extensively and productively on the feminist theory of other disciplines and, equally importantly, on continuing engagement with the lives of women in all contexts. This chapter will review and evaluate some of the interdisciplinary and critical influences within feminist legal thought. I will focus in particular on the ways in which feminist social science and philosophy have assisted feminist legal theorists to challenge narratives which reinforce law’s power to construct truth, as well as the particular gendered truths that it has constructed. Feminist critique of law’s power to construct truth has been very extensive and somewhat successful, but less attention has been directed at discourses which might allow us to see the entire edifice of law differently. While feminist and critical legal approaches have successfully challenged ideas about the closure, separation and special status of law, by and large they have remained focused on the positive state-based law. There are good disciplinary reasons for this focus, but legal thinking, under the influence of sociology, anthropology and regulation theory is also moving towards a much more pluralistic and less static conception of the nature of law.

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