Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Review of The Common Place of Law: Stories From Everyday Life by Patricia Ewick & Susan S. Silbey (1998).

Sometimes a work's intellectual influences reveal both its strengths and its shortcomings. This is certainly the case with Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey's The Common Place of Law: Stories From Everyday Life, and its indebtedness to the thinking of Michel Foucault and Michel de Certeau. Taken together, Foucault and de Certeau's work suggests that investigations of law's power are most fruitful not at the level of legal institutions and the state but at the level of lived experience, where we can see how power is exercised, understood, and sometimes, resisted. This is, in essence, the narrative at the heart of The Common Place of Law, where two sociologists of law examine how law or legality (power that is at once institutional and embedded in day-to-day social practices) is recognized, resisted, and reconstituted by a wide variety of ordinary people going about their lives. It is out of the most ordinary acts that law is constituted as law.

Publication Citation

26 Law & Soc. Inquiry 145-167 (2001) (reviewing Patricia Ewick & Susan S. Silbey, The Common Place of Law: Stories From Everyday Life (1998))