The Legal Order: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Legal Order

1st Edition

By Santi Romano


145 pages

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First published in 1917 (Part 1) and 1918 (Part 2), with a second edition in 1946, this is the first English translation of Santi Romano’s classic work, L’ordinamento giuridico (The Legal Order). The main focus of The Legal Order is the notion of institution, which Romano considers to be both the core and distinguishing feature of law. After criticising accounts of the nature of law centred on notions of rule, coercion or authority, he offers a compelling conception, not merely of law as an institution, but of the institution as ‘the first, original and essential manifestation of law’. Romano advances a definition of a legal institution as any group who share rules within a bounded context: for example, a family, a firm, a factory, a prison, an association, a church, an illegal organisation, a state, the community of states, and so on. Therefore, this understanding of legal institutionalism at the same time provides a ground-breaking theory of legal pluralism whereby ‘there are as many legal orders as institutions’. The acme of a jurisprudential current long overlooked in the Anglophone environment (Romano’s work is highly regarded in France, Germany, Spain and South America, as well as in Italy), The Legal Order not only proposes what Carl Schmitt described as a ‘very significant theory’. More importantly, it offers precious insights for a thorough rethinking of the relationship between law and society in today’s world.


"The Legal Order forces the reader in its indirect, enigmatic way—and especially when put into its wider political context—to ponder questions about the nature, significance, and challenges of legal pluralism that go far beyond those encountered in many contemporary social scientific debates around this concept."

Roger Cotterrell, FBA is the Anniversary Professor of Legal Theory at Queen Mary University of London

Table of Contents

Foreword: Martin Loughlin

1. The concept of legal order

2. The plurality of legal orders and their relationships

Afterword: Mariano Croce

About the Author

Santi Romano (1875–1947) was one of the key figures of Italian legal scholarship in the twentieth century. He was professor of Public Law in many prestigious Italian universities and was the President of the Italian Council of State, the highest legal-administrative body ensuring the legality of public administration.

Mariano Croce is Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy at Sapienza – Università di Roma, Italy. His research includes theory of the state, legal and political institutionalism, legal pluralism and LGBTQIA studies. Among his books are The Legal Theory of Carl Schmitt (Routledge, 2013, with A. Salvatore) and Undoing Ties: Political Philosophy at the Waning of the State (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015, with A. Salvatore).

About the Series

Law and Politics

Continental Perspectives

A core legacy of the Continental juridico-political tradition is the methodological commitment to the idea that law and politics are inextricably tied to one another. On the one hand, law has to be studied in the light of the concrete political dynamics, social forces, and societal movements that make law what it is. On the other hand, the analysis of political processes should be coupled with the study of the legal techniques through which politics exerts its effects on social reality.
The series aspires to promote works that use the nexus 'law & politics' as a prism that allows understanding societal dynamics beyond the deep-seated borders separating purely legal from purely political methodologies. It welcomes theoretically informed and empirically grounded analyses that foster the development of theory in the study of juridico-political processes.

The qualifier 'Continental' signifies not so much a geographical or socio-historical feature as a methodological one. The approach that the series aims to promote, regardless of the nationality of prospective authors, materializes at the intersection between the vocabularies and methodologies of legal and political theories. In other words, the starting point of this approach is that the interplay between legal and political processes provides a precious lens to observe and comprehend contemporary societal phenomena.

More specifically, submissions exploring the following themes are welcomed:

  • The relationship between the legal and the political spheres from a theoretical, historical and/or empirical point of view.
  • The transformation of sovereignty.
  • The transformation of the state and the rise of non-state political and organizational structures that break the ties with modern statehood.
  • Exceptionalism and emergency at the domestic and/or the global level.
  • The downfall of conventional juridico-political binaries: public/private, state/civil society, domestic/international, religious/secular and others.
  • Current transformations of formal constitutions and the separation of powers.
  • Issues related to the increasing spread of legal pluralism and global legal pluralism.
  • Strategies and politics of legal elites and the new role of judicial bodies both nationally and internationally.
  • Analyses of key Continental authors who have brought to light the materiality of the law, such as Giorgio Agamben, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Marcel Gauchet, Antonio Gramsci, Jurgen Habermas, Reinhart Koselleck, Antonio Negri, Carl Schmitt and others.
  • Analyses of key Continental "classics" whose voice is unheard or underrepresented in the Anglophone academic and publishing environment, such as Walter Benjamin, Leon Duguit, Georges Gurvitch, Maurice Hauriou, Hermann Heller, Georg Jellinek, Ernst Junger, Costantino Mortati, Georges Renard, Santi Romano, Rudolf Smend, Simone Weil and others.

This interdisciplinary series welcomes monographs and edited volumes that engage with the conceptual and empirical questions detailed above and discussions of how the contamination of jurisprudential and theoretical-political approaches helps illuminate current national and global processes.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence
LAW / Legal History
LAW / Essays