Sunday, February 19, 2012

where weber and kafka intersect: interesting new research

A (relatively) new article out of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (February 2011) by Douglas Litowitz titled "Max Weber and Franz Kafka: A Shared Vision of Modern Law" studies the impact of Weberian concepts of law using an interesting historical link between the two great thinkers. Here is a (gated) link to the article -- abstract below:

Recent scholarship suggests a line of influence from the sociologist Max Weber to the writer Franz Kafka, mediated through the lesser-known figure of Alfred Weber, who was Max’s younger brother and a law professor who served as one of Kafka’s law school examiners. This paper finds textual support for this claim of influence. Indeed, there is an uncanny similarity between Weber’s and Kafka’s writings on law, particularly in their diagnosis of a legitimation crisis at the heart of modern law, and in their suspicion that modern law cannot deliver on its promises.Weber and Kafka succeed at capturing the irrationalities, paradoxes, and disaffections of modern law, but in the final analysis their work suffers from a failure to appreciate law’s progressive and emancipatory potential.


  1. "but in the final analysis their work suffers from a failure to appreciate law's progressive and emancipatory potential."
    Perhaps Litowitz sees and knows something I don't about modern law (actually I would hope he does), but still, ouch.

  2. agreed. The guy (litowitz) is actually a lawyer by training, not an academic. So perhaps he can be excused. Nevertheless, I think the article is cool just for the sole reason that he provides a textual analysis of both scholars. One can get a lot out of such an article -- without buying into the shitty normativity at the end.