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Fault Lines: Tort Law as Cultural Practice

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Tort law, a fundamental building block of every legal system, features prominently in mass culture and political debates. As this pioneering anthology reveals, tort law is not simply a collection of legal rules and procedures, but a set of cultural responses to the broader problems of risk, injury, assignment of responsibility, compensation, valuation, and obligation.

Examining tort law as a cultural phenomenon and a form of cultural practice, this work makes explicit comparisons of tort law across space and time, looking at the United States, Europe, and Asia in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. It draws on theories and methods from law, sociology, political science, and anthropology to offer a truly interdisciplinary, pathbreaking view. Ultimately, tort law, the authors show, nests within a larger web of relationships and shared discursive conventions that organize social life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Both editors Engel and McCann are eminently qualified to prepare this reader on current themes in tort law practice from a comparative perspective .... The highly professional text is throughly indexed and contains an excellent bibliography."—R. A. Carp, Choice

"The editors, who have contributed mightily to our scholarly understanding of torts and disputing over the past 25 years, have succeeded admirably in assembling highly accessible essays.... the essays are highly accessible, and the text will be a welcome addition to legal studies courses...."—Law and Politics Book Review

"Fault Lines presents an original look at how popular culture informs legal practice, and how this influence determines the way a society thinks about and deals with wrongdoing and personal injury."—Timothy Lytton, Albany Law School

"Unified in its attention to tort law in action, this breakthrough volume incorporates years of independent, original research from leading scholars. With clear, comparative examples, it reveals how changes in tort law practices relate to larger social changes." —Richard Abel, UCLA School of Law

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804756143
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2009
  • Series: The Cultural Lives of Law Series
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David M. Engel is SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo Law School. Michael McCann is Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship and Director of the Law, Societies, and Justice program and the Comparative Law and Society Studies Center at the University of Washington.
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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures ix

Contributors xi

Introduction: Tort Law as Cultural Practice David M. Engel Michael Mccann 1

Part I On Legal Culture and Cultural Analysis of Tort Law

1 Law, Liability, and Culture David Nelken 21

2 Torts and Notions of Community: More Observations on Units of Legal Culture Keebet von Benda-Beckmann 39

Part II Different Approaches to Cultural Analysis of Tort Law

3 India's Tort Deficit: Sketch for a Historical Portrait Marc Galanter 47

4 Liability Insurance at the Tort-Crime Boundary Tom Baker 66

5 Juries as Conduits for Culture? Valerie P. Hans 80

6 Framing Fast-Food Litigation: Tort Claims, Mass Media, and the Politics of Responsibility in the United States William Haltom Michael Mccann 97

Part III Injury and Identity: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Tort Law

7 Discrimination and Outrage: Exploring the Gap Between Civil Rights and Tort Recoveries Martha Chamallas 119

8 Regulating Middlesex Anne Bloom 137

9 Whiteness, Equal Treatment, and the Valuation of Injury in Torts, 1900-1949 Jennifer B. Wriggins 156

Part IV Issues of Risk and Responsibility

10 The Role of Tort Lawsuits in Reconstructing the Issue of Police Abuse in the United Kingdom Charles R. Epp 175

11 Lawyers and Solicitors Separated by a Common Legal System: Anti-Tobacco Litigation in the United States and Britain Lynn Mather 192

12 Suing Doctors in Japan: Structure, Culture, and the Rise of Malpractice Litigation Eric A. Feldman 211

13 The Role of the Judiciary in Asbestos Injury Compensation in Japan Takao Tanase 233

Part V Causation, Duty, and Obligation

14 Discourses of Causation in Injury Cases: Exploring Thai andAmerican Legal Cultures David M. Engel 251

15 "Nobody Broke It, It Just Broke": Causation as an Instrument of Obfuscation and Oppression Ann Scales 269

16 The Cultural Agenda of Tort Litigation: Constructing Responsibility in the Rocky Mountain Frontier Joyce Sterling Nancy Reichman 287

Acknowledgments 309

Notes 311

Bibliography 329

Cases, Statutes, and Agency Reports 361

Index 365

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