Style Matters: On the Role of Pattern Analysis in the Study of Regulation

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Style pervades society. It features centrally in discussions about and in the appreciation of music, art, fashion, and writing. We also hear claims that style matters for all sorts of social interactions, from parenting to teaching to managing and leading others. With respect to law and its relationship to society, style can matter too. A country’s overall legal system is said to exhibit one or another style, with Kagan (2001) famously arguing that the United States exhibits a distinctive style of “adversarial legalism.” Actors within the legal system can also exhibit distinct styles too. Among lawyers, for example, some litigators have been said to exhibit a “hardball” style when pressing their clients’ cases. Regulatory enforcement officials can choose either to adopt a “by the book” style or a more responsive style in their interactions with the managers of the businesses that they inspect (Bardach & Kagan, 1982). Those businesses and their managers themselves have been said to exhibit one or more particular management styles affecting their posture toward law and legal compliance (Gunningham, Kagan, & Thornton, 2003).

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In Varieties of Legal Order: The Politics of Adversarial and Bureaucratic Legalism 178-191 (Thomas F. Burke and Jeb Barnes eds., Routledge 2017)

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