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Any sociological analysis of law cannot refrain from questioning why legal systems exist or, with a different terminology, which functions they perform. This is a crucial question because it goes a long way toward tackling the most natural and profound kernel of scientific thought:why observable things are there. In sociology, the quest for this “why,” that is, for the causes or reasons why social institutions spring up, survive, and disappear, has been self-evident since the discipline's origins. As a matter of fact, it has inspired the most influential mainstream of sociological thinking, namely “functionalism,” especially in its functional-structural variation, whose most basic tenet is precisely the idea that social institutions exist because they perform certain functions and cooperate in keeping a social structure in its ...

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