This thesis considers the implications of the post~structuralist turn that has been taken in feminist legal theory. It is argued that an adequate theoretical base for understanding law cannot be built exclusively out of post-structuralist insights regarding subjectivity, discursive struggle, and the production of meaning. It is argued, further, that in addition to these "micrological" facets of analysis, legal theory must be made capable of addressing "macrological" factors such as legal - institutional and economic power.
Finally, a possible supplement to post-structuralist theory which would satisfy this requirement without violating the principles of poststructuralist philosophy is proposed. The two feminist poststructuralist legal theorists considered in this analysis are Carol Smart and Drucilla Cornell. The thesis tries to establish that these two theorists encounter a common stumbling block in their insistence that micrological factors be stretched to provide complete accounts of social phenomena, and by the accompanying prohibition on "grand" theorizing.
Chapter one is an analysis of the use Carol Smart has made of Michel Foucault?s social theory, to develop her own distinctive feminist theory of legal power. Particular attention is paid to the consequences that are entailed for feminist legal strategy - it is argued that Smart's approach implies a "retreat" from law that is more extensive than she appears comfortable admitting, and certainly more extensive than Foucault's own observations on law would make necessary.
Chapter two looks at Drucilla Cornell's derivation of a feminist legal "philosophy of the limit", drawing primarily from the work of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan. The strategic implications of Cornell's proposal that legal meaning should be interpretively transformed from within are considered, and it is argued that her approach involves a disturbing passivity regarding legal institutional structures and law reform. The third chapter investigates the theoretical causes for these difficulties in Smart and Cornell's work.
It is argued that their common weakness is an insistence upon constructing legal theory exclusively on the basis of micrological insights. The fourth chapter is an attempt to suggest a way in which macrological and micrological concerns might be brought together in feminist legal theory. To this end, the relationship between Foucault and Derrida's theories and Marxism is discussed; and Theodor Adorno's critical theory is explored as a model of the non-repressive integration of micrological and macrological considerations.