Dr Jan Winczorek
University of Warsaw
English abstract: Legal culture is a concept as central to legal studies and sociology of law as difficult to define. It aims to serve important theoretical needs but it is also responsible for some puzzles that trouble legal and socio-legal scholars. Some of them are quite famous: the puzzle of the nature of Japanese litigiousness, the puzzle of differing German and Dutch legal cultures, or, recently, the issue of cultural defence. Some are lesser known, like the multitude of courts’ adjudicating strategies in Poland’s allegedly unitary legal culture. The paper argues that the problems of such nature are a conceptual artefact, a result of objectifying understanding of legal culture as a phenomenon. It is stressed that in such studies more weight should be put on the immediate, procesual nature of investigated phenomena. In order to support these claims, conceptual machinery of systems theory is utilised. First, a general view of N. Luhmann regarding the notion of culture is accepted and applied to the idea of legal culture. Further it is demonstrated how the aims served by the notion of legal culture can be achieved by appealing to such theoretical concepts as structural coupling, first- and second- order observation, and above all – temporal nature of social systems. A general conclusion of the paper is that in the study of “legal culture” an evolutionary perspective is unavoidable.
Keywords: Niklas Luhmann, Systems Theory, legal culture, structural coupling, first-order observation, second-order observation, temporal nature of social systems
Published: Number 1(4)/2012, pp. 106-125.
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