Cover of Legal Realism Regained by Wouter de Been
Legal Realism Regained
Saving Realism from Critical Acclaim
Wouter de Been


264 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804756594
Ebook ISBN: 9780804787529


Excerpts and More

Legal Realism Regained presents a comparison between the legal realists, a group of pragmatic legal theorists from the 1920s and 1930s, and critical legal studies, a movement of postmodern legal theory during the end of the twentieth century. The book argues for a return to legal realism and the classical pragmatism of John Dewey and William James and for a rejection of the postmodern critique of critical legal studies. It discusses the two movements with respect to three topics: their view of history, their view of social science, and their view of language.

Rejecting the claim that critical legal studies can be seen as the heir of legal realism, Legal Realism Regained argues that, with respect to each of these three topics, the realists still present a stronger argument than their more radical descendants.

About the author

Wouter de Been works as a researcher for the Wiardi Beckman Foundation in Amsterdam, a research institution affiliated with the Dutch Labour Party.

"Legal Realism Revisited is an ambitious book, which revisits the relationship between legal realism and critical legal studies in an interesting and provocative way. The discussion in the book is learned, thorough, and quite sophisticated."

—Hanoch Dagan, Tel-Aviv University

"Discussions of American Legal Realism as a movement in legal thought are numerous, but seldom enlightening. Wouter de Been's Legal Realism Revisited is a notable exception. His patient reconstruction of the topic is a model of the intellectual historian's craft. In particular, his discussion of the role of functionalism in realist writing clarifies many issues that earlier authors have left murky."

— John H. Schlegel, University at Buffalo Law School

"Wouter de Been provides a thorough and sophisticated look at oft-neglected elements of legal realism and critical legal studies, details differences between the two movements, and offers a compelling argument for the continuing vitality of certain components of legal realism. The author displays an impressive mastery not only of the movements themselves, but also of underlying concepts drawn from history, sociology, law and philosophy."

—Adam Shajnfeld, Columbia