Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



An anthology by Austin Sarat is reviewed from a critical race perspective. The book's agenda is to show how the law seeks to work in the world, particularly when, why, and how legal decisions respond to social characteristics of those making them as well as those who are subject to them. Also emphasized are the complex relations among the law's various parts (e.g., judges and jurors, police and prosecutors, appellate and trial courts). The book is organized around the law's paradoxes, purposes of the law which can be somewhat mutually exclusive. Many of the leading voices in the law and society movement are represented in the excerpts included in the anthology. Still, the review shows that the book fails to incorporate a critical race or feminist perspective into its stated goals. Discussion of race is not completely absent, just inadequate. The review considers many of the selections from the anthology and offers some commentary on them, as well as suggesting pieces that may have been included to address race and gender more effectively. The review also briefly considers the relationship between the law and society and critical race movements and pointedly questions what meaning has been imposed upon the law and society movement as a consequence of Sarat constructing and interpreting its introductory canon.