Advertisement

Governing Through Normality: Law and the Force of Sameness

  • Mariano CroceEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article claims that the existence of social groups hinges on the production of sameness, which allows distinguishing members from non-members. Sameness is described as a shared set of standards whereby social subjects can provide mutually understandable accounts of themselves, their practical activities and their environment. The author argues that sameness is not an intrinsic property of groups but is produced within the very practices that it is meant to support. By building on a Wittgensteinian interpretation of meanings and rules, he illustrates how sameness is an intrinsic feature of the process through which the members of a practice construct the latter by issuing its rules and establishing roles. At the same time, the article draws on Carl Schmitt’s institutional thinking, elaborated in the 1930s, and particularly his analysis of the relevance of normality to the existence of law. In doing so, the author claims that sameness and normality are key, co-original aspects of there being an effective legal order. Against this analytical background, the article goes on to claim that the legal orders typical of liberal regimes hold sway on social practices through the protection of normality and the revision of its boundaries as new challenges arise. As a case in point, the author examines the hypothesis that today’s push for legal recognition of same-sex marriage could be interpreted as an immunity response of liberal regimes to homosexual sexualities’ former critique of traditional models of kinship.

Keywords

Sameness Normality Homonormativity Same-sex marriage Secondary rules 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author thanks the Editor and the anonymous reviewers of the IJPCS for their careful reading of the manuscript and their very enlightening comments. The writing of this article has been supported by a Pegasus Marie Curie Fellowship of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

References

  1. Agamben, G. (1998). Homo sacer: sovereign power and bare life. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ammaturo, F. R. (2014). The right to a privilege? Homonormativity and the recognition of same-sex couples in Europe. Social & Legal Studies, 23(2), 175–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, G. P., & Hacker, P. M. S. (2009). Wittgenstein. Rules, grammar and necessity. Essays and exegesis of §§ 185–242 (2nd ed.). Malden: Blackwell Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barker, N. (2013). Not the marrying kind. A feminist critique of same-sex marriage. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  5. Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Bernstein, M., & Taylor, V. (Eds.). (2013). The marrying kind? Debating same-sex marriage within the lesbian and gay movement. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bloor, D. (1997). Wittgenstein, rules and institutions. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, P. (1998). Practical reason. On the theory of action. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brookes, L. (2009). Gay male fiction since stonewall: ideology, conflict, and aesthetics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Butler, J. (2000). Antigone’s claim. Kinship between life & death. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Calhoun, C. (2000). Feminism, the family, and the politics of the closet: lesbian and gay displacement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cobb, M. (2012). Single: arguments for the uncoupled. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cooper, D. (2004). Challenging difference. Rethinking equality and the value of difference. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cornell, D. (1998). At the heart of freedom: feminism, sex, and equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Costa, P., & Zolo, D. (2007). The rule of law: history, theory and criticism. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cox, B. (2014). Marriage equality is both feminist and progressive. Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest, 17(4), 707–738.Google Scholar
  18. Croce, M. (2012a). Self-sufficiency of law: a critical-institutional theory of social order. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Croce, M. (2012b). A practice theory of legal pluralism: Hart’s (inadvertent) defence of the indistinctiveness of law. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 24(1), 27–47.Google Scholar
  20. Croce, M. (2014). Desiring what the law desires: a semiotic view on the normalization of homosexual sexuality. Law, Culture and the Humanities. doi: 10.1177/1743872114553070. published online 7 October 2014.Google Scholar
  21. Croce, M. (2015). Quod non est in actis non est in mundo. Legal words, unspeakability and the same-sex marriage issue. Law & Critique, 26(1), forthcoming.Google Scholar
  22. Croce, M., & Salvatore, A. (2013). The legal theory of Carl Schmitt. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Cruikshank, M. (1992). The gay and lesbian liberation movement. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. D’Cruz, C., & Pendleton, M. (Eds.). (2013). After homosexual: the legacies of gay liberation. Perth: UWA Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. D’Emilio, J. (2000). Cycles of change, questions of strategy, the gay and lesbian movement after fifty years. In C. A. Rimmerman, K. D. Wald, & C. Wilcox (Eds.), The politics of gay rights (pp. 31–53). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Dempsey, D. (2010). Conceiving and negotiating reproductive relationships: lesbians and gay men forming families with children. Sociology, 44(6), 1145–1162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Douglas, M. (1987). How institutions think. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  28. Duggan, L. (2003). The twilight of equality? Neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  29. Emens, E. F. (2004). Monogamy’s law: compulsory monogamy and polyamorous existence. NYU Review of Law & Social Change, 29, 277–376.Google Scholar
  30. Esposito, R. (2010). Communitas. The origin and destiny of community. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Franke, K. M. (2004). The domesticated liberty of Lawrence v. Texas. Columbia Law Review, 104, 1399–1426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Franke, K. M. (2012). The curious relationship of marriage and freedom. In E. Scott & M. Garrison (Eds.), Marriage at a crossroad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Franklin, S., & McKinnon, S. (Eds.). (2001). Relative values: reconfiguring kinship studies. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Harris, A. P. (2006). From stonewall to the suburbs? Toward a political economy of sexuality. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 14(4), 1539–1582.Google Scholar
  35. Hart, H. L. A. (1994). The concept of law (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hayden, C. P. (1995). Gender, genetics, and generation: reformulating biology in lesbian kinship. Cultural Anthropology, 10, 41–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hayek, F.A. (1967). The principles of a liberal social order. In New studies in philosophy, politics, economics and the history of ideas. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 160–177.Google Scholar
  38. Hunnings, G. (1988). The world and language in wittgenstein’s philosophy: fruit vendors and civil servants. New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  39. Kelly, P. (2004). Liberalism. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  40. Kelsen, H. (1945). General theory of law and state. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Klesse, C. (2007). The spectre of promiscuity: gay male and bisexual non-monogamies and polyamories. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  42. Klesse, C. (2014). Poly economics—capitalism, class, and polyamory. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 27(2), 203–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. MacKinnon, C. (1983). The male ideology of privacy: a feminist perspective on the right to abortion. Radical America, 17(4), 23–35.Google Scholar
  44. Mouffe, C. (2000). The democratic paradox. London: Verso 2000.Google Scholar
  45. Petchesky, R. P. (1984). Abortion as “violence against women”: a feminist critique. Radical America, 18(2–3), 64–68.Google Scholar
  46. Petchesky, R. P. (1990). Abortion and woman’s choice: the state, sexuality, and reproductive freedom (Revisedth ed.). Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Rich, A. (1983). Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. In A. Snitow, C. Stansell, & S. Thompson (Eds.), Desire: The politics of sexuality (pp. 212–241). London: Virago.Google Scholar
  48. Richardson, D. (2004). Locating sexualities: from here to normality. Sexualities, 7(4), 391–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Richardson, D. (2005). Desiring sameness? The rise of a neoliberal politics of normalisation. Antipode, 37(3), 515–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Richardson, D., & Seidman, S. (Eds.). (2002). Handbook of lesbian and gay studies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Ruskola, T. (2005). Gay rights versus queer theory. Social Text, 23(3–4), 235–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schmitt, C. (1996). The concept of the political. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. Schmitt, C. (2004). On the three types of juristic thought. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  54. Schmitt, C. (2005). Political theology: four chapters on the concept of sovereignty. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Schneider, D. M. (1980). American kinship. A cultural account (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Schneider, D. M. (1984). A critique of the study of kinship. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  57. Searle, J. R. (2010). Making the social world: the structure of human civilization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sheff, E. (2011). Polyamorous families, same-sex marriage, and the slippery slope. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 40(5), 487–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sluga, H. (2011). Wittgenstein. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stychin, C. (2004). Same-sex sexualities and the globalization of human rights discourse. McGill Law Journal, 49, 951–968.Google Scholar
  61. Taylor, C. (1993). To follow a rule…. In C. Calhoun, E. LiPuma, & M. Postone (Eds.), Bourdieu: Critical perspectives. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  62. Voltolini, A. (2010). Is Wittgenstein a contextualist? Essays in Philosophy, 11(2), 150–167.Google Scholar
  63. Warner, M. (Ed.). (1993). Fear of a queer planet: queer politics and social theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  64. Warner, M. (1999). The trouble with normal. Sex, politics, and the ethics of queer life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Weeks, J., Heaphy, D., & Donovan, C. (1999). Citizenship and same sex relationships. Journal of Social Policy, 28(4), 689–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Williams, M. (1999). Wittgenstein, mind and meaning. Toward a social conception of mind. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  67. Witte, J., & Nichols, J. (2013). Who governs the family?: marriage as a new test case of overlapping jurisdictions. Faulkner Law Review, 4, 321–349.Google Scholar
  68. Wittgenstein, L. (2009). Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  69. Zivi, K. (2014). Performing the nation: contesting same-sex. Marriage rights in the United States. Journal of Human Rights, 13, 290–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Law and Cosmopolitan ValuesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpenBelgium

Personalised recommendations