Chapter 15 Sociology of legal temporalities
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In a fast and continuously changing society, a sociology of legal temporalities contributes to the understanding of the relation between law and society in terms of differentiated timelines. Modern law is characterized by temporal autonomy: it moves in its own pace, its Eigenzeit. Law’s proper time is notoriously slow and inert, compared to for example politics or economy. This legal slowness and inertia are closely connected to legal certainty and stability: if law does not change or at least at a very slow pace, society knows what to expect. In an ever accelerating society however, slowness and inertia could become problematic and endanger the function of law. Another feature of interest for a sociology of legal temporalities, is the question if law is still pre-dominantly past-oriented or if it is evolving towards a stronger orientation towards the future. As the future becomes more and more society’s dominant time horizon and uncertainty as a consequence becomes radicalized, law is willingly or not forced to re-adjust its perspective towards the future. This requires agility, speed and a high degree of flexibility which goes against the typical Legal Eigenzeit. A sociology of legal temporalities addresses once again the fundamental question what law is and can be in the third modernity.

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