This chapter first reviews some fundamental tenets of Marxist social and political theory, and then outlines some of the ways in which the place of law has been conceptualised in Marxist theory. This is followed by a discussion of an account of law that is heavily influenced by Marx, namely the critical legal studies movement.
13. Marxist and Post-Marxist Theories of Law
J. E. Penner and E. Melissaris
13. Critical legal theory
Critical legal theory rejects what is generally regarded as the natural order of things, be it the free market (in the case of Critical Legal Studies), ‘meta-narratives’ (postmodernism), the conception of ‘race’ (Critical Race Theory), and patriarchy (in the case of feminist jurisprudence). Critical legal theorists share a profound scepticism about many of the questions that have long been regarded as at the core of legal theory. This chapter touches on the first three of these movements. It first discusses the development of critical legal studies and then turns to postmodern legal theory, considering the views of Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jürgen Habermas. It then outlines the principal claims of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and considers the relationships between CRT and feminist theory and CRT and postmodernism.