The Technocratic State

Annelise Riles

in Collateral Knowledge

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226719320
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226719344 | DOI:
The Technocratic State

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This chapter explores the public side of technical legal knowledge. What does technical legal knowledge look like? How is it different when it is practiced by agents of the state? The Technocratic State turns to the public side of legal knowledge practices—and in particular to how legal expertise is deployed within the regulatory state. This chapter is based on two examples from different times and places—the American legal reforms that radically revised the law of collateral into the law of “secured transactions,” and the initial stages of Japanese legal reforms aimed at resolving the question of the legality under the Japanese law of the derivatives market practice known as “netting”. There are important similarities between public and private legal expertise. But at the same time there are also differences. Technocrats' concern with making legal expertise realistic leads to an emphasis on mixing legal expertise with other forms of expertise, from economics to ethnography, and with a concern with technologies of collaboration with market participants. Over the last few decades, knowledge practices have become the target of a pervasive and sophisticated neoliberal critique. Early twentieth-century legal scholars put forward the technocrat as the model subject, and the judge, lawyer, and legal theorist were to think of themselves as technocratic administrators, nothing less and nothing more. The neoliberal reforms framed an attack on the very same character of the technocrat.

Keywords: Technocratic State; netting; Japanese legal reforms; technical legal knowledge; derivatives market practice; ethnography; neoliberal reforms; collaboration

Chapter.  11479 words. 

Subjects: Financial Markets

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