Tony Lawson's Theory of the Corporation: Towards a Social Ontology of Law

26 Sep 2017

In his account of the corporation as a ‘community’, Tony Lawson advances a materialist theory of social reality to argue for the existence of emergent social structures based on collective practices and behaviours, distinguishing his position from John Searle’s theory of social reality as consisting of declarative speech acts. Lawson’s and Searle’s accounts are examined for what they imply about the relationship between social structures and legal concepts. It is argued that legal concepts are themselves a feature of social reality and that a consequence of the law’s recognition of the ‘reality’ of the corporation is to open up the activities of business firm to a distinct form of normative ordering.