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Critical legal theory is in need of reconstruction and rehabilitation. By most accounts, the goal of critical legal theory is to reveal the deep structure of the legal system that remains unrecognized in, and even obscured by, the self-understanding of legal actors. Scholars traditionally moved beyond the superficial level of legal doctrine either by adopting a rationalistic orientation and analyzing legal concepts or by adopting an empiricist orientation and analyzing the economic and sociological features of legal institutions. However, during the past thirty years there has been a tremendous diversification in these critical approaches. For example, the critical legal studies movement has generated a variety of neo-Marxist critiques of legal ideology, law and economist scholars have argued that legal legitimacy is grounded in the maximization of economic efficiency, and advocates of “voice” scholarship have worked to expose the gendered, racist, and homophobic elements of law. In the new scholarly environment everyone seems to be doing critical theory, but as a result of this diverse expansion the very enterprise of critical theory now appears chaotic and disjointed.

Publication Citation

12 Yale J. Law & Human. 299 (2000)