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The Ethic of Diversity: Local Law and the Negotiation of Urban Norms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2018

Abstract

Toronto prides itself both on being diverse and on celebrating rather than merely tolerating diversity. Urban diversity has been studied by demographers, sociologists, and planners, but sociolegal analyses of the negotiation of diversity are scarce. The study described here has three elements: a study of the Toronto Licensing Tribunal, a challenge to the property standards by‐law, and a campaign to reform the rules governing street food. The key substantive finding of the research is that municipal legal processes, in a city that takes pride in its diversity, still work to effect and naturalize distinctly ethnocentric norms. The content of (some) norms is subject to revision but the normative power of law as such remains unchallenged.

Methodologically, the article, inspired by Bruno Latour and Actor Network Theory, shows the usefulness of treating local legal processes as a series of networks in which nonhuman objects (such as weeds, courtroom Bibles, and hot dogs) can sometimes be protagonists of legal dramas rather than mere objects.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © American Bar Foundation, 2008 

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