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Authorizing the Production of Urban Moral Order: Appellate Courts and Their Knowledge Games

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Using some appellate courts' reviews of projects to maintain moral order in the city as the main source of data, this article shows that an analysis of legal knowledge production that (1) is dynamic and (2) refuses to treat people and texts as totally different entities, one studied by social scientists and the other studied by lawyers, can tell us much about such familiar but seldom theorized legal maneuvers as judicial review and constitutional challenges. Choosing to analyze the dynamics of knowledge processes is inspired by Actor Network Theory (ANT), Bruno Latour's work in particular. This methodological choice is particularly appropriate because judicial review tends to avoid making judgments about the content of impugned laws or ordinances, focusing instead, as Latour does, on form and process. But insofar as legal processes in general privilege form and process to a greater or lesser degree, a more general argument is made about the appropriateness of using tools from ANT to study legal and quasi-legal knowledge networks.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Toronto

Publication date: June 1, 2005


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