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Family Law and Personal Life$
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John Eekelaar

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199535422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535422.001.0001

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(p.174) 7 Community
Family Law and Personal Life

John Eekelaar

Oxford University Press

This final chapter considers the critiques of individualism by communitarianism and feminism which followed the work of Alasdair Macintyre. While recognizing the virtues of community, it arguesd that those critiques paid insufficient attention to the opportunities that community action give for the exercise of power by sectional groups within communities. Successful rights claims are a key to limiting or re-aligning these power groupings. If these are to succeed, institutions must exist wherein these claims can be articulated. Legal institutions, which are part of the community but not identical with it, are important examples. The roles of the legal profession and of mediation are examined in this context. The conclusion is that the virtues of community should primarily be achieved through voluntary action; the law should play a secondary role. But it is only the law or legal-type institutions which can protect individuals against the power of communities. The need for this protection may be greater now than ever.

Keywords:   individualism, comunitarianism, caring, feminism, rights, legal profession, mediation

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