Faith in the utility and value of legal rights forms the political common sense of our age. With its profound breadth and insight into the modern condition, Max Weber's social and political thought is widely considered to be the most influential of the era. Legal phenomena play a centre-stage role in his account of the development of the West and the rationalism of modern social arrangements. Cary Boucock's "In the Grip of Freedom" examines the relationship between Max Weber's "Sociology of Law" and his interpretation of the structure and meaning of modern society. Weber's social and political thought is investigated in the context of developments in Canada which have followed the 1982 enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms-namely, the movement toward a rights-oriented nation where broad social issues are routed through the courts, and the political self-understanding of the citizen becomes increasingly tied to a conception of the individual as a rights-bearing subject. Professor Boucock's text runs against the grain of conventional assessments of Weber's legal theory and its applicability to understanding contemporary legal developments.
He explores the significance of Weber's sociology of law theories within the larger compass of his sociological thought and illustrates the significance of Weber's sociology for interpreting the social dimensions of present-day legal developments in Canada. Weber's work is a vehicle for understanding the social and legal practices of our own time, and thus, goes far beyond a simple interpretation of the great German thinker.