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The Politics of Rights

Lawyers, Public Policy, and Political Change

Stuart A. Scheingold

Publication Year: 2004

Stuart A. Scheingold's landmark work introduced a new understanding of the contribution of rights to progressive social movements, and thirty years later it still stands as a pioneering and provocative work, bridging political science and sociolegal studies. In the preface to this new edition, the author provides a cogent analysis of the burgeoning scholarship that has been built on the foundations laid in his original volume. A new foreword from Malcolm Feeley of Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law traces the intellectual roots of The Politics of Rights to the classic texts of social theory and sociolegal studies. "Scheingold presents a clear, thoughtful discussion of the ways in which rights can both empower and constrain those seeking change in American society. While much of the writing on rights is abstract and obscure, The Politics of Rights stands out as an accessible and engaging discussion." -Gerald N. Rosenberg, University of Chicago "This book has already exerted an enormous influence on two generations of scholars. It has had an enormous influence on political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists, as well as historians and legal scholars. With this new edition, this influence is likely to continue for still more generations. The Politics of Rights has, I believe, become an American classic." -Malcolm Feeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, from the foreword Stuart A. Scheingold is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Washington.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-ix

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FOREWORD

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pp. xi-xvi

Like much good social theory, the arguments in this volume were born in the crucible of pressing events of a particular time and place. The book was conceived at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1960s, when Scheingold was inside Bascom Hall lecturing on constitutional...

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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION: THE NEW POLITICS OF RIGHTS

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pp. xvii-xlvii

Michael McCann was the first to call my attention to the way in which The Politics of Rights had become something of a Rorschach test among rights scholars. He pointed out that there were those who saw the book largely in terms of its first part...

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PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

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pp. xlix-lii

This book investigates the political role of legal rights. The inquiry is conducted on two levels-corresponding to what I choose to think about as the two lives of the law in the United States. The concrete institutional existence of the law is the...

Prologue

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pp. 1-

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1. LEGAL RIGHTS AND POLITICAL ACTION

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pp. 3-10

This is a book about the law. The law is real, but it is also a figment of our imaginations. Like all fundamental social institutions it casts a shadow of popular belief that may ultimately be more significant, albeit more difficult to comprehend, than...

Part One: THE MYTH OF RIGHTS

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pp. 11-

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2. LA W AS IDEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE MYTH OF RIGHTS

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pp. 13-22

The essential premises of this study are (I) that the law furnishes American politics with its most important symbols of legitimacy, and (2) that these symbols reflect values which are the building blocks of a political ideology. I refer to this...

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3. AN IDEOLOGIST'S EYE VIEW OF THE MYTH OF RIGHTS

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pp. 23-38

Those who speak for American law provide us with a coherent explanation and a reasoned defense of the theory of government under law. They argue in particular that the capacity of American politics to adjust peacefully to changing...

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4. THE CALL OF THE LAW: THE MYTH OF RIGHTS AS POLITICAL RHETORIC

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pp. 39-61

The myth of rights has been presented as the belief system that dominates the thinking of Americans about the interplay of legal and political forces in our society. Belief systems are tricky things to deal with. It is one thing to agree that cultures...

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5. THE POLITICAL RESONANCE OF THE MYTH OF RIGHTS

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pp. 62-79

The appeals made by the myth of rights for the support of Americans are rooted in traditional values and closely associated with venerable institutions. The symbolic voice of the myth of rights can, moreover, be easily understood and...

Part Two: THE POLITICS OF RIGHTS

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pp. 81-

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6. RIGHTS AS RESOURCES

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pp. 83-96

The politics of rights is a term to describe the forms of political activity made possible by the presence of rights in American society. Only insofar as we understand the politics of rights is it possible to realistically assess the political...

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7. CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES AND POLITICAL GOALS

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pp. 97-116

A consideration of the relevance of constitutional values to political goals will be a two-pronged exercise---concerned on the one hand with the policy implications of constitutional values and on the other with the role of constitutional values...

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8. THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC POLICY

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pp. 117-130

The enunciation of new goals of public policy results in a rearrangement of legal rights and obligations, but does not guarantee behavior in the real world that is consistent with the rearrangement. The myth of rights leads us to believe that...

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9. LEGAL RIGHTS AND POLITICAL MOBILIZATION

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pp. 131-148

Regardless of the problems of implementation, rights can be useful political tools. It is possible to capitalize on the perceptions of entitlement associated with rights to initiate and to nurture political mobilization-a dual process of...

Part Three: THE STRATEGISTS OF RIGHTS

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pp. 149-

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10. LEGAL EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL SOCIALIZATION: THE MYTH OF RIGHTS REVISITED

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pp. 151-169

The basic message of the politics of rights to lawyers interested in altering the status quo is simple. They are directed to tum their attention, at least in part, to the mobilizing potential of litigation. But lawyers are likely to...

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11. THE ACTIVIST BAR: PROGRAMS AND PROSPECTS

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pp. 170-199

Relatively few lawyers are interested in serving the cause of change. Those who are I refer to as the activist bar.1 These activist lawyers do not comprise a homogeneous or even a distinct group. There is no consensus among activist lawyers...

Epilogue

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pp. 201-

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12. THE POLITICAL RELEVANCE OF LEGAL RIGHTS

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pp. 203-219

The purpose here is to put the basic themes of the study into a broader political context in order to better understand the relationships between legal rights and political change. A brief review of the basic themes will be followed by consideration of the question...

INDEX

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pp. 221-224


E-ISBN-13: 9780472025534
E-ISBN-10: 0472025538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472030057
Print-ISBN-10: 0472030051

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2004

Edition: 2nd Edition

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Subject Headings

  • Civil rights -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Civil rights -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Lawyers -- United States.
  • Social change.
  • Law -- Political aspects.
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