The Constitution of Interests

Beyond the Politics of Rights

John Brigham

NYU Press (publisher)

Many of America's most important social and political movements--abolition, women's suffragette, civil rights, women's liberation, gay and lesbian rights--have organized in the shadow of the law. All are based in their theoretical opposition to the law. Yet at the same time, they are dependent on the laws that prohibit them. Law is thus formed as much through the dynamic tensions that govern how these laws are received as through their official decree.
Legal forms such as contracts, property, and rights also constitute social and political life because they structure our world. John Brigham here focuses on four ideological movements and their strategies, among them the struggle over the closing of gay bathhouses in the early years of the AIDS crisis and the radical feminist use of rage and radical consciousness in anti- pornography campaigns. The effect of law on politics, Brigham convincingly reveals, is pervasive precisely because political life finds its expression in a surprising variety of legal forms.

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