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Law's RelationsA Relational Theory of Self, Autonomy, and Law$
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Jennifer Nedelsky

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195147964

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195147964.001.0001

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Restructuring Relations

Restructuring Relations

(p.307) 8 Restructuring Relations
Law's Relations

Jennifer Nedelsky

Oxford University Press

The heart of the book's argument has been that values like equality or autonomy are made possible by structures of relationship. Thus transformative projects such as feminism involve restructuring relations. This chapter provides multiple examples of what it means to bring a relational analysis to bear on the problem of violence against women. It also takes up some of the most important challenges to projects of restructuring relations though law. I conclude that the values that my approach invokes will inevitably be contested, and that the judgments about the structures of relations that will advance them will be inevitably tentative or speculative. But I argue that judges are de facto making choices among competing values now. A relational approach would make those choices more apparent. Similarly, judges make judgments about the effects of their legal interpretations. A relational approach will generate a higher degree of self-consciousness about all these judgments, and thus improve their quality. I also make the case that this approach is immediately useable in existing legal systems.

Keywords:   violence against women, intimate partner violence, feminism, scope of the state, sexuality, transformation through law, competing values, legal interpretation, law, rights

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