Title

Genealogies of Soft Law

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

ISSN

0002-919X

Publisher

Oxford Academic

Language

en-US

Abstract

The relatively recent blossoming of multiple soft law tools and the calls for a soft harmonization of European private law have invited reflection on the genealogy of soft law. Genealogical arguments have come to play a critical role in the heated European soft law v. hard law debate. While some find the ancestors of soft law in the medieval legal regime and particularly the lex mercatoria, others link soft law to a prolific strand of 19th and early 20th century theories of social law and legal pluralism. At times explicitly invoked, more often im plicitly alluded to, the neo-medieval genealogy and the social geneal ogy perform a crucial ideological function, legitimizing different political and professional agendas of soft harmonization and obfus cating their failures and distributive consequences.

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