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The Law Multiple


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; List of Figures; Note on the Text; 1. Troubling Encounters; 2. Abstractionism, Revisited; 3. Dealing with Difference: Doing Criminal Law and Social Order; 4. Situating Remorse; 5. Visualizing Cases; 6. Folding Times, Making Truths; 7. Productive Fictions for the Study of the Law: From Hyper-Explanation to Hyper-Object.

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Where, when, and how is the law practiced? An investigation of how truths are made in the legal system.


'The Law Multiple is a superb reconceptualization of knowledge, judgement and the making of legal cases. Extraordinary in its breadth and depth … not only reports fascinating empirical study of decision-making, but also presents a brilliantly original treatise in research methodology and the sociology of law. Eschewing finality and the temptation to retreat into the comfort of abstract purification, Irene van Oorschot takes us on a bold expedition to think through the performativities of social research and socio-legal studies. Synergising high level theory with sensitive empirical research, [it] breaks new ground in sentencing and decision-making research. It reveals empirically how legal case-making work is conducted through its material media. It develops previous conceptualisations about holism and case-construction by showing how typified case narratives conduct moral sense-making … Written with flair and humour, every page will make you think.' Cyrus Tata, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

'Van Oorschot provides a lucid and creative account of the practices of judges in the making of a case. Critically, concepts such as enactment and multiplicity that are taken up to think about judicial case-making practices are also deployed to cast a gaze on the knowledge-making practices of sociology. In this way, van Oorshot provides not only a valuable examination of legal practices but also a reflexive questioning of truthmaking in the social sciences.' Evelyn Ruppert, Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London

'How is law done in practice? And what do sociologists make of those practices in turn? Thankfully, there is no need to come up with general, one-size-fits-all answers. As Irene van Oorschot's masterful study of case-making in the Netherlands demonstrates, the task is rather to trace how judgements and knowledge encounter each other in a range of specific, partially connected material settings. Drawing on the insights of Science and Technology Studies and Socio-Legal Studies, this double-edged ethnography suggests that in impatient times the lack of singular epistemo-legal schemes might be our best hope.' Endre Dányi, Visiting Professor for the Sociology of Globalisation, Bunderswehr University Munich

'The Law Multiple invents social and legal studies and the sociology of law anew, but its relevance lies beyond that, in making an utterly convincing case for an exciting new way of analysing practices of knowledge production and valuation. Here, one of the brightest minds of her generation storms onto the scene of the social sciences.' Willem Schinkel, Professor of Social Theory, Erasmus University Rotterdam

'What is the law? In this compelling book Irene van Oorschot does not seek a single, purified answer to that question. Instead, she takes it along with her while exploring diverse juridical practices in diverse ways. This research strategy allows her to show that the law is multiple: an amalgam of contrasting and yet interconnected practices. A distribution machine. A moral knot. Depended on files. Oriented to rules. Generating times. Invested in truth. And what else? Crucially, invitingly, the list is open ended.' Annemarie Mol, Professor Anthropology of the Body, University of Amsterdam

'The Law Multiple: Judgment and Knowledge in Practice by Irene van Oorschot is an absorbing and thought provoking read, written at a high level of sophistication. The book is an account of a fascinating study of judicial case-making in Dutch criminal courts. It makes a valuable contribution to the growing socio-legal literature on judgecraft - attempts to understand how judges navigate their way through the multiple contexts of each case - legal, social, cultural, moral, psychological, material, and more.' Marina Kurkchiyan, Frontiers of Socio-Legal Studies

'The Law Multiple provides a scholarly introduction to the interconnected and distinct relationship between sociology and the law … this book encourages readers to challenge their notions of the evolving definitions of social and legal practices … a recommended text for former liberal arts alumni.' Gillian Eguaras, Canadian Law Library Review

'… an interesting and well-written account … a nuanced discussion of how judges and other court participants assemble legal cases.' Michael Lynch, Journal of Law and Society

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