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Synopsis

This volume offers snapshots of how rights are debated and employed in public discourse to reshape legal and political relations at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It explores how rights are used to challenge the state of affairs by individuals and groups who seek justice, and the strategies devised to defy the existing rights by those who wish to recast the social and political order.

This volume discusses rights, firstly, in relation to actual events and issues faced by policy-makers, courts, international agencies, or ordinary people. These range from the demands of minority groups living in the West to freely practice their culture and/or religion, to the threat of terrorism, the regulation of asylum rights, the investor's rights to disclosure and the rights of artists to freedom of expression. Secondly, rights discourse is examined in relation to attempts to redefine the form and content of rights, for example, by banning the right to wear religious symbols in public institutions or detaining terrorism suspects without trial. Thirdly, rights discourse is explored in connection with the attempts to develop new notions of rights, such as 'human security', which can more effectively respond to the challenges of late modern societies. Finally, the statuses of rights in sociological theory and socio-legal research are briefly discussed and analysed.

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