Document Type



27 Law & Soc. Inquiry 139 (2002)


"What We Do When We Do Law and Popular Culture" establishes a theoretical framework for analyzing legal popular culture, taking as its point of departure Richard Sherwin's book "When Law Goes Pop." The article stresses what Professor Silbey considers to be three major stumbling blocks in the growing interdiscipline of law and popular culture. She argues that if we are to advance our understanding of the relationship between law and popular culture, we must follow at least three simple charges: (1) demarcate our beginning concepts, such as law or culture, so that amidst the vast phenomena that may be called law or culture, we know which we are discussing; (2) mind the tenets of the disciplines we are marrying, such as those of literary theory and legal practice, so that we do not abandon the lessons already learned and established by either or both fields; and (3) attend to method, to how our analyses of law and popular culture proceed so that it can be reproduced and taught. Meant to be fairly straightforward (but rarely followed), these three charges clarify some theoretical groundwork for what the author sees developing into a sophisticated and varied field of law and cultural studies.

Date of Authorship for this Version

March 2002


popular culture, cultural studies, law and film, law and literature, cultural analysis of law