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Substantive and Reflexive Elements in Modern Law

Gunther Teubner
Law & Society Review
Vol. 17, No. 2 (1983), pp. 239-286
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053348
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053348
Page Count: 47
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Substantive and Reflexive Elements in Modern Law
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Abstract

The most comprehensive efforts to develop a new evolutionary approach to law are found in the work of Nonet and Selznick in the United States and Habermas and Luhmann in Germany. While these theorists are concerned with a common problem-the crisis of formal rationality of law-they differ drastically in their accounts of the problem and their vision of the future. This paper tries to resolve these differences by first decomposing and then restructuring the diverse neo-evolutionary models. Using a more comprehensive model of sociolegal covariation, the author identifies an emerging kind of legal structure which he calls "reflexive law." Reflexive law is characterized by a new kind of legal self-restraint. Instead of taking over regulatory responsibility for the outcome of social processes, reflexive law restricts itself to the installation, correction, and redefinition of democratic self-regulatory mechanisms. The author identifies areas of private law in which reflexive solutions are arguably emerging, and he spells out the consequences which a concern for reflexivity has for a renewed sociological jurisprudence.

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