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Legal Feminism and Foucault – A Critique of the Expulsion of Law

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Contemporary theorists have become increasingly receptive to the selective incorporation of Foucaultian theory within feminist frameworks. However, the reception of Foucault within feminist legal critique has been less enthusiastic. The most celebrated theorist to argue for the incorporation of Foucaultian insight within the feminist analysis of law is Carol Smart. While conceding the significant contribution of her work, this article will argue that her interpretation of the Foucaultian thesis on law is considerably more problematic. Illustrating the extent to which she adopts an unnecessarily pessimistic prognosis for the development of Foucault within legal analysis and reform, this article will examine an emerging counter-interpretation of Foucault that presents the possibility for a more promising application, seeking to provide a defence both of the utility of Foucault for feminist jurisprudence, and of the utility of legal reform strategies being exercised for feminist purposes.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-6478.00202

Affiliations: Department of Law, University of Reading

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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