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Geography, law and the centralizing state: wages arrestment in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Scotland

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This paper analyses reform of the law of wages arrestment in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Scotland to examine the spatial nature of the ‘regulatory dilemmas’ faced by the state in legal interventions in a spatially heterogeneous context. Though this reform was an example of how the nineteenth-century British state sought to regulate the spaces of everyday life, the analysis shows that law-making processes are the outcome of complex tensions between and within the state and legal systems. In these processes, local legal cultures, tensions between systems of common and statute law and the complex geographies of social life play important roles in shaping the conjunction of space, place and law.

Keywords: Scotland; centralizing state; historical geography; legal geographies; local legal culture

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 5GD, Email:

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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