Epistemic Othering: The Interplay of Knowledges in Legislative Drafting, Kati Nieminen and Laura Sarasota
In this article we use the concept of epistemic othering to describe the subjectivation of people who have experienced debt problems in the legislative drafting process, and argue that the evidence-based policy paradigm, together with its participatory dimension, produce a potentially harmful subject-position for people who are considered vulnerable and irrational. By analysing the preparatory material of Finnish interest rate cap laws, we explore what is constructed as rational and possible in the legislative process, and how these modalities frame the use of expert knowledge. We argue that what is considered rational is constructed in terms of market logic, and what is construed as possible is heavily framed by law as knowledge. Together, market logic and law as knowledge form the preconditions for the use of expert knowledge. Ultimately, the way in which these three types of knowledges interact contributes to the epistemic othering of people who experience debt problems.
Speaking Up: Why People Dare to Sue the Government in China, Jongyoon Baik
Why do Chinese citizens file administrative lawsuits despite the low expectation of winning or the possibility of political retaliation from suing the government? Drawn from the author’s fieldwork interviews in 2019 with ordinary citizens who have had disputes with their administrators, this paper argues that Chinese citizens’ desire to have their voices heard trumps these obstacles. That is, through lawsuits, people want to face their administrators and make their case. An administrative trial provides such an opportunity for citizens to voice their discontent in the physical presence of the administrators, unlike other dispute resolution methods available in China. Administrative litigants value this rare chance, even though the rulings are less likely to be in their favor. By treating an administrative trial as a stage for citizens to stand up for themselves against the government, this article contributes to our understanding on political expressions under authoritarianism.
‘The Rules are All Over the Place’: Mass Observation, Time, and Law in the Covid-19 Pandemic, Sian Beyond-Jones, Emily Graham and Nadine Hendrie
This article analyses practices of pandemic time-making that surrounded the imposition and communication of laws restricting daily life in parts of the UK in spring 2020. With colleagues, we commissioned a Mass Observation Project directive in summer 2020, asking contributors about their everyday experience of time during the pandemic. We analyse how legal temporalities emerge across 228 responses. Initially, law-making seemed belated, missing the disruptive temporalities of the pandemic. Once they arrived, pandemic rules were sudden, changeable, and confusing. Mass Observation writers forged clusters of improvised practices – tactics of anticipation – to cope with these unsettling temporalities. Meanwhile, the Hansard Society, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, and legal commentators argued that ‘fast track’ pandemic law-making was error-ridden, putting the public at risk of unwitting criminal liability. Open to ‘polyrhythmic’ temporalities operating across fields of experience and action, our study underlines the contradictory or dissonant qualities of apparently resonant constructions of legal time.
Law, Language and the Power of ‘Invisible Threats’ of Violence Against Women, Catherine Turner and Aisling Swaine
Violence, and the threat of violence against women, is a pervasive feature of women’s lives. From high profile threats in politics, to everyday harms such as domestic abuse, violence, threat and intimidation control women’s behaviour and silence their voices. Yet in many cases the pernicious and harmful effect of threat is not captured by the law. Drawing on the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and empirical research undertaken in Northern Ireland, this paper analyses the ways that both objectified and incorporated social structures generate invisible forces of fear and threat that the law does not see, but that women feel, and structure their lives around. The paper develops the novel conceptual tool of ‘invisible threats’ to capture threat as harm, to show the relation between threat and gendered (in)securities and to challenge institutions of the law to respond better to ‘invisible threats’ as felt, perceived and articulated by women.
Legal Complexes and Legal Change in an Era of Globalization, Terrence C. Halliday