[NOTE: Updated on 6-28-2009 to qualify the publication date, and on 6-27-2009 to add comments respecting relevance of Dr. Latour's book to the concept of legal interpretive communities.]
Thanks to Judith Lihosit for the news of the publication later in 2009 of an English translation, entitled The Making of Law: An Ethnography of the Conseil D’Etat, of Dr. Bruno Latour‘s La Fabrique du droit. Une ethnographie du Conseil d’Etat (2002). (Amazon and Barnes & Noble identify the U.S. publication date as August 31, 2009, but Professor Jack Balkin tells us that early 2010 is a more likely publication date for the English translation.) This work is an important empirical study of legal information behavior, as well as a significant contribution to legal ethnography.
This work also appears to provide empirical support, and a social-scientific theoretical and methodological framework, for certain arguments respecting the importance of social groups in law in connection with the interpretation of legal language and other aspects of adjudication. For example, Dr. Latour’s work appears to provide a social-scientific justification for Professor Stanley Fish‘s theory of legal interpretive communities (as expressed, e.g., in his 1989 book Doing What Comes Naturally) as constituting a key component of the context that determines the meaning of legal language, and as furnishing constraints on the interpretation of such language. Dr. Latour’s work thus seems of interest not only to legal informaticists, sociologists of law, and others interested in the empirical study of law-related behavior, but also to law & literature scholars and to others who study the interpretation of legal language.