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Ideals and Practices in the Rule of Law: An Essay on Legal Politics

  • Mark Fathi Massoud


This essay responds to the three commentators in the symposium on my book, Law's Fragile State, by describing the sociolegal study of the rule of law as an investigation into both a set of ideals (the rule of law as a normative question) and a set of practices (the rule of law as an empirical question). Studying the rule of law involves understanding the contingent nature of its ideals as well as investigating the actual work that lawyers, judges, state officials, aid workers, activists, and others have done in specific contexts to promote legal remedies to social or political ills. These overlapping layers of the study of the rule of law—ideals and practices, normative and empirical—provide a sociolegal framework for understanding the successes and failures of legal work and, ultimately, how citizens experience state power in democratic and nondemocratic societies alike.



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Ideals and Practices in the Rule of Law: An Essay on Legal Politics

  • Mark Fathi Massoud


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