• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Custom and law are both normative systems that regulate behavior patterns in certain areas of human society, in contrast to morals and religious faith, which motivate people for inward social obligations. Yet custom and law each have different attributes, among which are basic differences in the areas of their application and the sources of their normative authority. Custom pertains to spontaneous human groupings with no specific authority, while law, in contrast, pertains to particularized areas controlled by specific, usually governmental, authority. For these reasons, philosophers and jurists have frequently discussed custom and law since ancient times. Curiously, however, contemporary social sciences have rarely concerned themselves with the global observation and theoretical analysis of custom and law as representative social norms.

Western Treatment
Historical Development

Ancient Greek philosophy developed ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles