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The Republic of Choice: Law, Authority, and Culture

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Overview

In this imaginative exploration of modern legal culture, Lawrence Friedman addresses how the contemporary idea of individual rights has altered the legal systems and authority structures of Western societies. Every aspect of law, he argues—from civil rights to personal-injury litigation to divorce law—has been profoundly reshaped, reflecting the power of this concept.

The new individualism is quite different from that of the nineteenth century, which stressed self-control, discipline, and traditional group values. Modern individualism focuses on the individual as the starting and ending point of life and assumes a wide zone of choice. Choice is vital, fundamental: the right to develop oneself, to build up a life uniquely suited to oneself through free, open selection among forms, models, and lifestyles. With striking clarity and force, Friedman demonstrates how the new individualism results from changes in the technological and social framework of society. Loose, unconnected, free-floating, mobile: this is the modern individual, at least in comparison with the immediate past.

Written for the general reader as well as lawyers and legal scholars, The Republic of Choice offers keen and original observations about legal culture and the public consciousness that informs and expresses it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674762602
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1990
  • Pages: 255
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence M. Friedman is Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law at Stanford University and author of many books, including A History of American Law, Crime and Punishment in American History, and American Law in the Twentieth Century.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Legalism and Individualism

3. Modernity and the Rise of the Individual

4. Technology and Change

5. On Modern Legal Culture

6. The Chosen Republic

7. Gods, Kings, and Movie Stars

8. Crime, Sexuality, and Social Disorganization

9. The Life-Style Society

10. A Stab at Assessment

Appendix: Social Meanings of Key Terms

Notes

Index

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