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Quantifying Law: legal indicator projects and the reproduction of neoliberal common sense

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Abstract

Development thinking in the past two decades has explicitly embraced law as an engine of development. This legal turn has been accompanied by a dramatic expansion of efforts to measure and quantify legal systems. Against claims that legal indicators are neutral, technical descriptions of the legal world, this article argues that legal indicators do not merely reflect legal reality; their construction and deployment are central to the continuing diffusion of neoliberalism as development common sense. The article considers the two most prominent projects to quantify law in the service of economic development-the World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators and Doing Business indicators-and argues that these reproduce a narrow neoliberal conception of law as a platform for private business and entrepreneurial activity, and institutional support for a system of laissez faire markets.

Description

Keywords

44 Human Society, 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Journal Title

Third World Quarterly

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0143-6597
1360-2241

Volume Title

34

Publisher

Informa UK Limited