Political Jurisprudence

Martin Shapiro

in On Law, Politics, and Judicialization

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199256488
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600234 | DOI:
Political Jurisprudence

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This paper was originally published in the Kentucky Law Journal in 1964, and it is the first of two that elaborate a relatively general approach to judicial politics, which emphasizes the underlying social logics not only of law and courts but also of politics and government. It gives an account of the then new movement of political jurisprudence, which is described as essentially an extension of certain elements of sociological jurisprudence and judicial realism, combined with the substantive knowledge and methodology of political science. The foundation of the movement is the sociological jurist’s premise that the law must be understood not as an independent organism, but as an integral part of the social system; it is, in one sense, an attempt to advance the earlier movement of sociological jurisprudence by greater specialization. The new movement seeks to overcome the earlier one by concentrating on the specifically political aspects of the law’s interaction with society and describing the concrete impact of legal arrangements on the distribution of power and rewards among the various elements of a given society. Rather than presenting a general analysis of a purportedly complete new philosophical system, the paper attempts to describe it by means of a survey that suggests a general tone and approach as well as indicating some differences, conflicts, and weaknesses.

Keywords: courts; distribution of power; distribution of rewards; judicial realism; law; political jurisprudence; political science; social science; sociological jurisprudence

Chapter.  16373 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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