John Dewar

in The Oxford Handbook of Legal Studies

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780199248179
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

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Family law is largely an aggregation of instrumental legislation, designed to achieve specific social and political purposes. Unlike disciplines that take a legal concept as its starting-point — such as contract, trust, or restitution — family law tends to be more than usually susceptible to shifts in politics and social behaviour, and the complex interplay between the two. This means that a dominant theme of family law scholarship has been that of change and transformation. This article offers a brief history of these transformations in family law, and describes how change has been described and analysed. This historical narrative provides a framework for a discussion of the debates that have characterized the discipline in the latter part of the twentieth century.

Keywords: family law; legal scholarship; instrumental legislation; politics; social behaviour

Article.  9938 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Family Law

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