Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2003


This article is an effort to provide both the intellectual context of Thurman Arnold's work and, through his work, a better sense of where and how the study of law turned after realism. The article is in five parts. Part I describes Arnold's relationship with legal realism, looking at the earliest part of his academic career when, as a mainstream realist, he performed empirical studies of local and state court systems. Part II is Arnold's proposed field of "Political Dynamics," an interdisciplinary approach to the symbols of law, politics, and economics. Part III considers Arnold's authorial voice in Symbols and Folklore, which established him as an ironic observer of the odd, self-destructive folkways of 1930s American governance. Part IV explains how Arnold applied his theory to the criminal trial and to the emerging field of administrative law (or, more specifically, the judicial review of administrative agencies).