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Political Jurisprudence, The "New Institutionalism," and the Future of Public Law

Rogers M. Smith
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 82, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 89-108
DOI: 10.2307/1958060
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1958060
Page Count: 20
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Political Jurisprudence, The "New Institutionalism," and the Future of Public Law
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Abstract

For the last quarter century public-law studies have been dominated by @'political jurisprudence,@' which tries to understand law as a product of poltical forces. Critics claim this outlook, as now articulated, has generated fragmented empirical work, disconnected from larger normative issues. This essay uses recent @'institutionalist@' or @'structuralist@' perspectives, based on critiques of pluralist political science and both Marxist and functionalist sociology, to propose a poltical approach to public law studies that can avoid such criticisms. If both empirical and normative public-law scholars took as their central concern the @'dialectic of meaningful actions and structural determinants@' and recast their research in several specified ways, they might be better able to describe the role of normative ideas in law and to achieve a broader empirical agenda that could ground and inform normative debates.

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