Informalism as a Form of Legal Ordering

Christine B. Harrington

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

 Informalism as a Form of Legal Ordering

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There are three distinctive approaches to informalism in the field of law and politics: judicial hierarchy approach, ongoing relationship approach, and legal pluralist approach. In general, all three approaches have similar descriptions of informal forms of orderings, be they institutions, such as small claims courts, or procedures, such as mediation. The approaches differ in terms of how each treats the relationship between informal and other forms of ordering. This article analyzes informalism as a form of legal ordering embedded in judicial and administrative institutions. It begins by discussing judicial hierarchy, the nature of the relationship between the parties as a principle determinant of whether informal or formal forms of ordering apply, and legal pluralism. The article then considers the central “technologies” of informalism within judicial and administrative settings, such as mediation and negotiated rulemaking. It also reviews research on informal law in the law and politics field and what these studies of informalism imply about the politics of law and legal institutions more generally.

Keywords: law; politics; informalism; legal ordering; mediation; negotiated rulemaking; informal law; legal institutions; judicial hierarchy; legal pluralism

Article.  7593 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law

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