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13 - The Sociological Perspective on International Law

from Part V - Interdisciplinary Approaches to International Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2022

Jeffrey L. Dunoff
Affiliation:
Temple University, Philadelphia
Mark A. Pollack
Affiliation:
Temple University, Philadelphia
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Summary

Sociological analysis of international law begins from the premise that international legal rules and institutions are deeply embedded in the particular sociocultural features of certain communities. Sociological factors and processes thus form an inseparable dimension of international law, and international law is both affected by and influences such factors and processes. Sociologists of law have long emphasized that law is rooted in communities, and laws are considered by these scholars as expressive of types of those communities. Since international law emerges from and operates within diverse social groups, Emile Durkheim’s famous statement is significant also for international law scholars: society is more than the individuals who compose it; society has a life of its own that stretches beyond our personal experience. Consequently, the fundamental idea that reverberates in countless sociological studies is that the social whole of a group is greater than the sum of its parts, and knowledge about social relations cannot be derived solely from knowledge about the individuals who comprise the group.

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International Legal Theory
Foundations and Frontiers
, pp. 282 - 304
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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