The Legally Pluralistic Tourist

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This article presents the idea that law can be consumed as an act of tourism. This article invites law to be compared with other traditional acts of culture and identification, as an act of authenticity, as an act of belonging. Yet when law is consumed as a tourist good, then it is an act of redefinition, of belonging to the other, of seeking authenticity outside of one’s normal legal culture.

Thus, the inquiry of this study is ask, can law be seen as a ritual, ceremony or performance that tourists could participate in, much as they might other aspects of culture? Also, if so, what forms of touristic acts of legal consumption might be fruitful for research?

The study will proceed by answering the first question in the affirmative. Yes, ritual and ceremonies are well described in the literature. The roots of what western society deems 'law' do appear to derive directly from the magical and mystical rituals that intrigued Gennep and Turner.

In preview, rituals and ceremonies have long been identified with community building and the enablement of individuals to pass through liminal stages from one sense of identity to another. Western law derived from Roman rituals and ceremonies, acts sacerdotal, communal, and interfamilial. While Roman law transitioned from cultural custom to structured practices and codes, the cultural content of performances remained. In the modern world, we oft find ourselves under multiple systems of laws, what legal scholars call legal pluralism. Legal pluralism holds that people often find themselves under multiple legal spheres, both positive and cultural in origin. Each person then must find their identity intertwist the multiple claims on their legal identity. A choice is left to each, to choose from multiple options what legal identity to assume. A legal tourist must choose to engage with one legal community or another; that choice renders them a consumer of the legal system of the community that generated the paideic content of the legal system.

Roman law in particular show substantial evidence of being intimately related to rituals both sacerdotal and social, that what was once clearly religious became secularized but never lost sight of its divine or idealistic core. Thus western law, and its extensive export of itself to many lands abroad, consists of legal ritual and ceremonies.

Next, the legal philosophy of Cover will be explored to demonstrate that the sociological character of contemporary law can be extended in useful ways to research the rituals and performances of legal acts. The jurisprudence will included to demonstrate how Cover’s legal philosophy has been applied to evidence that legal systems and acts extend far beyond the nineteenth century’s positive perspective to include recognition of the overlapping legal and normative spheres that everyone finds themselves engaged in everyday. The context of a legally pluralistic tourist is thus developed to recognize that legal acts and rituals exist, that the tourist is faced with choices of belonging and engagement, and that the tourist acts through her or his choices of legal performance.

This article will review several areas of research within Touring and Consumption. It will attempt to identify key ideas and concerns from each of those areas of research and reveal how law might fit within those research areas. Law can be consumed by engaging in the legal rituals and performances of the host and thus enacting a choice to join the nomos of a host.

The legally pluralistic tourist seeks to find that which cannot be found at home; they seek experience different from those from the known frame of reference.

This article does not present a discussion from the sociology of law, rather it attempts to identify the mundane and routine acts of law as taken by tourists as moments of ritual or ceremony. Those functional acts, like other acts of viewing, performing or experience sharing, provide insights into both tourists and the cultures from which they arrive and to whence they travel. Tourists consume legal acts, performances, and choices of law as services and sometimes as abstract goods totemizing ideals. Thus, an argument is proposed that the legal acts, performances, or choices of tourists belong among the list of acts and services worthy of notice and study within the sociology of tourism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTouring Consumption
EditorsDesmond Wee, Stephan Sonnenburg
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)978-3-658-10018-6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015

Publication series

NameManagement - Culture - Interpretation
PublisherSpringer Verlag


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