Law and society in Brazil at the crossroads: a review

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This article presents a general overview of Brazilian sociolegal studies. After presenting a short historical narrative of the field in Brazil, we argue that the early years of intense teaching of legal sociology had a politically committed approach, which gave rise to growing criticism of Brazilian legal scholarship that in turn affected the self-image of law professors. Different theoretical strands appeared in the years that followed, and some specific fields of research gained importance, particularly those concerning a sociology of the legal profession, the administration of courts, and law schools. However, we contend that as time went by, many sociolegal scholars began to neglect the critical approach to law, and today most of them fail to confront critical aspects of the gap between law on the books and law in action, especially when that gap affects lower classes or stigmatized populations.

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