Let’s talk about lex: Narrative analysis as both research method and teaching technique in law

Wolff, Leon (2014) Let’s talk about lex: Narrative analysis as both research method and teaching technique in law. Adelaide Law Review, 35(1), pp. 3-22.

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Law is narration: it is narrative, narrator and the narrated. As a narrative, the law is constituted by a constellation of texts – from official sources such as statutes, treaties and cases, to private arrangements such as commercial contracts, deeds and parenting plans. All are a collection of stories: cases are narrative contests of facts and rights; statutes are recitations of the substantive and procedural bases for social, economic and political interactions; private agreements are plots for future relationships, whether personal or professional. As a narrator, law speaks in the language of modern liberalism. It describes its world in abstractions rather than in concrete experience, universal principles rather than individual subjectivity. It casts people into ‘parties’ to legal relationships; structures human interactions into ‘issues’ or ‘problems’; and tells individual stories within larger narrative arcs such as ‘the rule of law’ and ‘the interests of justice’. As the narrated, the law is a character in its own story. The scholarship of law, for example, is a type of story-telling with law as its central character. For positivists, still the dominant group in the legal genre, law is a closed system of formal rules with an “immanent rationality” and its own “structure, substantive content, procedure and tradition,” dedicated to finality of judgment. For scholars inspired by the interpretative tradition in the humanities, law is a more ambivalent character, susceptible to influences from outside its realm and masking a hidden ideological agenda under its cloak of universality and neutrality. For social scientists, law is a protagonist on a wider social stage, impacting on society, the economy and the polity is often surprising ways.

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ID Code: 87792
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: scholarship of law, first-year experience, Higher education, law, HERN
ISSN: 0065-1915
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright is vested in the Association and, in relation to each article, in its author, 2014.
Deposited On: 27 Sep 2015 22:21
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2015 11:04

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