Title

A Social Dimension in European Private Law? The Call for Setting a Progressive Agenda

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2007

Abstract

This Article aims to show what the political, rather than the technical stakes, are in the current debate over the harmonization of private law in Europe. Part One analyzes the main actors, the legal sources, the ideological divide, and the process animating the current debate on European private law. It sheds light on the incremental transformation of European private law in a scholarly industry. Part Two sheds light on the main obstacles and inconsistencies that jurists encounter in envisioning a Social private law. This section argues that the notion of the Social in private law scholarship as well as the idea of Social Europe is rarely a useful notion to articulate a progressive agenda for European private law. Finally, Part Three offers some modest proposals of the methodological and strategic nature on the possibilities and the limitations of setting a progressive agenda for European private law. We argue that a progressive agenda for European private law can be conceived today as a significant platform only by breaking with the current hegemonies and ideologies, as well as by unveiling the transformation of European private law into a scholarly industry.

In light of Antonio Gramsci's notion of a philosophy of praxis, we hope that this paper will spark further thoughts and self-criticism on current mainstream, progressive, and neo-liberal projects tackling the harmonization of private law in the European Union.

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