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One of the most pressing issues of our time is the possibility of rebuilding the rule of law in former Leninist countries as a part of the transition to a market democracy. Despite formal changes in legislation and an increased attention to law in the rhetoric of policymakers, instituionalization of the rule of law has proven to be an immensely difficult challenge. Leninist regimes destroyed popular faith in law and legal institutions and, like other transitional regimes, contemporary post-communist Russia lacks the necessary institutional infrastructure to facilitate the growth of the rule of law.
Trying to Make Law Matter provides unique insight into the possibility of creating the rule of law. It is based on Kathryn Hendley's pathbreaking field research into the actual practices of Russian trial courts, lawyers, factory managers, and labor unions, contrasting the idealistic legal pronouncements of workers' rights during the Gorbachev era with tawdry reality of inadequate courts and dispirited workers.
Hendley frames her study of Russian law in action with a lively theoretical analysis of the fundamental prerequisites of the rule of law not only as a set of ideals but as a legal system that rests on the participation of rights-bearing citizens. This work will appeal to law, political science, and sociology scholars as well as area specialists and those who study transitions to market democracy.
Review Law and Politics Book Review | 3/1/1997