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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.

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All critical legal theorists share a deep cynicism about many of the important questions of legal theory. Fundamentally they reject many of the assumptions of both the legal and political order: for example, the free market, ‘meta-narratives’, and male or racial domination. This chapter 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 goes on to outlines the principal claims of critical race theory (CRT). It also considers the relationships between CRT and feminist theory and CRT and postmodernism.

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Many of the theories discussed in the previous chapters neglect or even ignore the position of women in society, and how they are treated by the law, the legal system, and other aspects of social, economic, and political life. Feminist writers have, in various ways, sought to correct this imbalance or prejudice. This chapter examines several key elements of feminist legal theories, and explores the origins of feminism; legal feminisms (liberal feminism, radical feminism, postmodern feminism, and difference feminism) and their impact on legal philosophy. It discusses the enormous literature on the subject, and its criticism of conventional jurisprudence.

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While orthodox legal theory has purported to be gender-blind, it often neglects or in some instances even ignores the position of women. This silence has been criticized by feminist theorists who have placed discrimination against, and the subordination of, women firmly on the jurisprudential agenda. It is a development that has had an enormous impact on legal education. It extends also to almost every branch of the law and legal system. This chapter examines the key elements of feminist legal theory, including the following: the origins of feminism; and legal feminisms (liberal feminism, radical feminism, postmodern feminism, and difference feminism).

Chapter

This chapter examines the salience of race and ethnicity in the criminal justice system from the perspective of critical race theory (CRT). It first provides an overview of the key ideas of CRT before discussing the interrelationships among race, crime, and the criminal justice system. It then explores the state response to rising social inequality and racial discrimination, as well as the key decision-making points in the criminal justice process that potentially increase or decrease ethnic disproportionality. It also considers the use of CRT to understand crime and criminal justice in England and Wales and how the principle of fairness that underpins the concept of policing by consent is undermined by any unfair practices or unlawful discrimination. concludes by citing evidence showing that people from ethnic minorities are at greater risk of criminalisation and harsher sanctions through the policing, prosecution, and sentencing stages.

Chapter

This chapter explores the broader context and history of race-related issues in the UK, considering why racial disparities persist in diverse societies like the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK, before narrowing the focus to race and ethnicity in the sphere of crime and criminal justice. The concepts of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ have long played major roles in both classroom and broader societal discussions about crime, punishment, and justice, but they have arguably never been more present and visible than today. The chapter looks at the problems with the statistics available on race, ethnicity, and crime, noting the ways in which they may not tell the whole story, before considering the statistics themselves as the chapter discusses the relationships between ethnicity and victimisation and offending. It then moves on to how ethnic minorities experience the various elements of the criminal justice system and the disadvantages they often face, before outlining the attempts that have been made to address these disparities at a state level. Finally, the chapter discusses critical race theory, a key theory in modern criminological examinations of race and its relationship to crime and justice, which grew out of the US but has much broader value and relevance as a framework of analysis.