Thursday, June 5, 2008

Carrillo on Popular Legal Culture and the Work of Lawrence M. Friedman

Links and Choices: Popular Legal Culture in the Work of Lawrence M. Friedman is a new article by Jo J. Carrillo, Hastings College of Law. It appeared in the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal (2007). Here's the abstract:
In 1989, Lawrence M. Friedman published Law, Lawyers and Popular Culture. Based in part on James Willard Hurst’s idea that markets create a social aggregate of behavior that shapes law, Friedman’s article offered one of the earliest arguments for the use of popular culture as a source of material for the study of law. According to Friedman, popular legal culture (a social aggregate of opinion about law) was both shaped by law and had the power to shape law. Thus, legal culture (opinions people hold about law), popular culture (mass generated opinions, norms and values held by people), and popular legal culture (mass generated opinions, norms, and values about law and lawyers)—because they represented public opinion—could provide a rich trove of information about how law is regarded by consumers of the legal system. But, Friedman warned, accessing this information required more than just a claim of influence; it required a social theory. To that end, Friedman proposed a three-pronged social theory for the study of law and popular culture that turned on three ideas: (1) explanations about law exist both inside and outside the legal system; (2) boundaries of law are porous and permeable to exchanged information; and (3) law is a dependent variable in a greater social system of other dependent variables. This paper considers Friedman’s social theory and places it into a broader context of scholarship on the same topic.

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