Articulating the realm of the possible: two farm marketing boards and the legal administrative field


University of British Columbia

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Master of Laws - LLM




This thesis suggests that it is impossible to consider any administrative agency in the abstract without losing important elements of the nature of the legal environment within which the agency operates. There is a large gap between the theories of formal administrative law and the experience of practice in particular administrative settings. Drawing upon the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, the thesis develops the concept of the legal administrative field as a means to approach this issue. The use of Bourdieu's concepts of field, habitus and capital help to articulate and give a theoretical structure to a process and series of practices that are otherwise hard to identify or study. Two Alberta farm marketing boards, and certain specific legal issues faced by each board, are examined in detail and analyzed in terms of the concept of the legal administrative field. It is shown that for each board, the realm of what was 'legally possible' shifted despite the fact that there were no changes in the formal administrative law and that legal practice in these fields involves far more than the application of the principles of formal administrative law. The intersection of the principles and habitus of formal administrative law, the structure provided by the legislative and regulatory framework, and the respective capital and habitus of all the individuals, agents and agencies within the field all interact and these complex interactions are what structure the legal administrative fields and shape the shifts which occur within them. In the struggles of interpretation which occur in these fields an attempt to make a clear demarcation between the practice of law by lawyers and the administration of the system by administrators is inadequate; it simplifies and renders invisible much of the complex series of interactions in which the legal practitioner is a participant and which create the field in which he or she practices. The conclusion is that the heuristic value of the legal administrative field in relation to the legal issues faced by the two marketing boards, and in relation to legal practice in the farm marketing area has been established and that this concept provides a useful perspective and a valuable supplement to a more traditional approach.


Alberta Pork; Alberta Chicken Producers; Administrative law - Canada; Administrative procedure - Canada; Farm produce - Alberta - Marketing; Agricultural marketing boards

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