Law/Society: Origins, Interactions, and Change
Publication Year: 2001
Foundations of the Sociology of Law provides a conceptual framework for thinking about the full range of topics within the sociology of law discipline. The book: contrasts normative and sociological perspectives on law; presents a primer on the logic of research and inference as applied to law related issues; examines theories of legal change; and discusses law in action with specific reference to civil rights legislation.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: An Introduction to the Sociology of Law
- The Two Faces of Law
- Law from a Sociological Perspective
- What is the Sociology of Law?
Part 1: Legal Change
- Chapter 2: Evolutionary Theories of Legal Change: Maine and Durkheim
- Maine: From Status to Contract
- Émile Durkheim: Legal Change and the Division of Labor
- Durkheim on Crime
- Critique and Discussion
- Chapter 3: Law, Class Conflict, and the Economy: Marxian Theory
- Law and the State in the Classical Marxian Model
- Two Marxian Analyses of Legal Change under Capitalism
- Beyond the Classical Marxian Model
- Summary and Discussion
- Chapter 4: Law and the State: Max Weber's Sociology of Law
- Weber's Model of Political Domination
- The Basic Categories of Legal Thought
- The Emergence of Formally Rational Law
- Conclusion: Weber and the Fate of Formalism
- Chapter 5: The Problem of Law in the Activist State
- Sociological Jurisprudence
- Normative Theory
- Doing Law: Toward a Model of Law in Action
- Summary and Conclusions
Part 2: Legal Action
- Chapter 6: Voting Rights and School Desegregation
- Voting Rights
- Desegregating Schools
- Chapter 7: Equal Employment Opportunity
- Policies in the 1960s and 1970s
- The Weaknesses of EEO/AA Law
- Impacts of EEO/AA Law
- Conclusions: An Analytic Summary
Part 3: The Legal Profession
Sociology for a New Century: A Pine Forge Press Series[Page ii]
Edited by Charles Ragin, Wendy Griswold, and Walter W. Powell Founding Editors: Charles Ragin, Wendy Griswold, Larry Griffin
Sociology for a New Century brings the best current scholarship to today's students in a series of short texts authored by leaders of a new generation of social scientists. Each book addresses its subject from a comparative, historical, and global perspective, and, in doing so, connects social science to the wider concerns of students seeking to make sense of our dramatically changing world.
- An Invitiation to Environmental Sociology Michael M. Bell
- Global Inequalities York Bradshaw and Michael Wallace
- How Societies Change Daniel Chirot
- Ethnicity and Race: Making Identities in a Changing World Stephen Cornell and Douglas Hartmann
- The Sociology of Childhood William Corsaro
- Cultures and Societies in a Changing World Wendy Griswold
- Crime and Disrepute John Hagan
- Gods in the Global Village: The World's Religions in Sociological Perspective Lester R. Kurtz
- Waves of Democracy: Social Movements and Political Change John Markoff
- Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective, Second Edition Philip McMichael
- Aging, Social Inequality, and Public Policy Fred Pampel
- Constructing Social Research Charles C. Ragin
- Women and Men at Work Barbara Reskin and Irene Padavic
- Cities in a World Economy, Second Edition Saskia Sassen
- Gender, Family, and Social Movements Suzanne Staggenborg
- Societies in the Making William G. Roy
- Race, Class, and Gender Douglas Hartman, Jennifer Pierce, and Teresa Swartz
- Working Families Phyllis Moen and Patricia Roehling
Copyright © 2001 by Pine Forge Press
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sutton, John, 1949-
Law/society: Origins, interactions, and change / by John R. Sutton. p. cm. — (Sociology for a new century)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-7619-8704-5 (cloth) — ISBN 0-7619-8705-3 (paper)
1. Sociological jurisprudence. I. Title. II. Series.
K370 .S88 2000
This book is printed on acid-free paper that meets
Environmental Protection Agency standards for recycled paper.
To Ben and Evan, Evan and Ben
About the Author
List of Tables[Page ix]
- Table 2.1 An Analytical Summary of Durkheim's Theory of Legal Change
- Table 3.1 An Analytical Summary of Marxian Theories of Legal Change
- Table 4.1 Max Weber's Typology of the Forms of Legitimate Domination
- Table 4.2 Max Weber's Typology of the Forms of Law
- Table 4.3 An Analytical Summary of Weber's Theory of Legal Change
- Table 6.1 Estimated Percentage of Voting-Age Blacks Registered in 11 Southern States, 1947–1986
- Table 6.2 Percentage of Black Students in Predominantly Minority and Nearly All-Minority Schools, by Region, 1968–1980
- Table 6.3 Percentage of Hispanic Students in Predominantly Minority and Nearly All-Minority Schools, by Region, 1968–1980
- Table 7.1 Percentage of Workers in Occupations by Race and Sex, 1964–1977
- Table 7.2 Comparative Analysis of Voting Rights, School Desegregation, and Equal Employment/Affirmative Action Laws
- Table 9.1 Distribution of Lawyers in Practice Settings, 1951–1991
- Table 9.2 The Class Structure of the Legal Profession
List of Figures[Page x]
- Figure 2.1 A Schematic Representation of Durkheim's Model of Social Organization and Legal Development
- Figure 3.1 A Schematic Representation of the Marxian Base-Superstructure Model
- Figure 6.1 Percentage of Black Children in Elementary and Secondary School With Whites, Southern and Border States, 1955–1973
- Figure 7.1 Median Wages of Full-Time Workers by Race and Sex as Percentage of White Male Median Earnings
- Figure 8.1 Law School Enrollments and Lawyers Admitted to the Bar, 1900–1984
- Figure 8.2 Female and Minority Enrollments in ABA-Approved Law Schools as Percentage of Total Enrollments, 1940–1985
- Figure 8.3 Number of All Lawyers and Female Lawyers, 1900–1995
- Figure 8.4 Population per Lawyer, 1900–1996
- Figure 9.1 Percentage of Attorneys in Private Practice Among Law Firms of Different Sizes, 1980 and 1991, and Percentage Growth in Absolute Numbers
- Figure 9.2 Percentage of All Law Firms Among Categories of Different Sizes, 1980 and 1991, and Percentage Growth in Absolute Numbers
- Figure 9.3 Percentage of Lawyers Who Are Associates in Law Firms of Various Sizes, 1980 and 1991, and Percentage Growth in Absolute Numbers
Sociology for a New Century offers the best of current sociological thinking to today's students. The goal of the series is to prepare students, and—in the long run—the informed public, for a world that has changed dramatically in the last several decades and one that continues to astonish.
This goal reflects important changes that have taken place in sociology. The discipline has become broader in orientation, with an ever growing interest in research that is comparative, historical, or transnational in orientation. Sociologists are less focused on “American” society as the pinnacle of human achievement and more aware of global processes and trends. They also have become less insulated from surrounding social forces. From the 1970s through the early 1990s, sociologists were so obsessed with constructing a science of society that they saw impenetrability as a sign of success. Today, there is a greater effort to connect sociology to the ongoing concerns and experiences of the informed public.
Each book in this series offers a comparative, historical, transnational, or global perspective to help broaden students' vision. Students need to comprehend the diversity in today's world and to understand the sources of diversity. This knowledge can challenge the limitations of conventional ways of thinking about social life. At the same time, students need to understand that issues that may seem specific to modern “America” (for example, the women's movement, an aging population bringing a strained social security and health care system, racial conflict, and so on) are shared by other countries and other times. Awareness of commonalities undercuts the tendency to view social issues and questions in narrowly American or contemporary terms and encourages students to seek out the experiences of other places and other times for the lessons they offer. Finally, students need to grasp phenomena that transcend national boundaries—trends and processes that are supranational (for example, environmental degradation). Recognition of global processes stimulates student awareness of causal forces that transcend national boundaries, economies, and politics.[Page xii]
The complex and ever-changing relation between law and social change sets the stage for John Sutton's Law/Society: Origins, Interactions, and Change. Over the past two centuries, people living in industrial societies have witnessed an explosion in the power of government and the importance of legislated social order. At the same time, however, they have been confronted with both the limits of government attempts to constrain and control social life through law (e.g., Prohibition) and the malleability of the legal system when confronted with dramatic new demands (e.g., equal opportunity legislation). These incongruities have baffled great thinkers and scholars for many years. Sutton gets to the heart of these issues by surveying and summarizing this immense body of thought and then assessing the power of these idea through an analysis of law and social change in the United States. Using both contemporary and historical evidence, Sutton explores the impact of law on social life and the difficult question of the origin of law—why we have the legal system that we do and why it is sometimes responsive and sometimes resistant to change. Law both reflects society and at the same time constrains and enables social action, giving some the authority to act while preventing others from acting. Sutton's portrait of law and society at the dawn of the new century spotlights both the long reach of the law and the many, often invisible, connections between emergent social action, legal institutions, and legislated order.
Law/Society aims to familiarize students with the foundational issues, debates, and literatures in the sociology of law. It is written for students who have some background in the social sciences—students in upper-division courses and graduate seminars—but it assumes no prior knowledge of the substantive area of law.
A distinguishing feature of Law/Society is that it offers an explicitly analytical perspective on the topic. This means that it poses a series of puzzles—How does law change? What makes law more or less effective in solving social problems? What do lawyers do?—and exposes students to the sociological procedures that can be used to find solutions. Rather than presenting a series of “just so” stories that must be passively absorbed, I present the sociology of law as an active explanatory project in which students themselves can engage. Several specific features of the book contribute to this analytical perspective:
- The introductory chapter contrasts normative and sociological perspectives on law and presents a brief primer on the logic of research and inference as it is applied to law-related issues.
- Theories of legal change are discussed within a common conceptual framework that highlights the explanatory strengths and weaknesses of different arguments.
- Discussions of ‘Taw in action’ are explicitly comparative, applying a consistent model to explain the variable outcomes of civil rights legislation.
- The narrative in the latter parts of the book is interspersed with empirical illustrations in the form of graphs and tables, encouraging students to engage issues in a hands-on way.
The sociology of law is a rich and unruly topic, and it is never easy to say what it includes and what it doesn't. What is foundational is in part a matter of taste, but I think it is also a matter of experience. This book is informed by my own intellectual biography and research interests, but it grows more directly from my 15 years of teaching the sociology of law to undergraduate and graduate students. In my teaching, and in the chapters that follow, I have tried to focus on matters that seem to me to be generic to the field—that is, issues that have preoccupied sociologists of law at formative stages in the field's history, that continue to resonate in contemporary debates, and that most effectively stimulate students to think about law in new ways. Foundations give us something to build on; they are not the whole building.
This book is organized around four topics:What is the Sociology of Law?
Chapter 1 attempts to characterize the sociology of law as a research enterprise that is distinct from jurisprudence and many other forms of writing about law. The main thrust of the chapter is to challenge students' often taken-for-granted assumptions about the autonomy of law. It describes a variety of topics and issues that are of special interest to social scientists, draws contrasts between sociological and juristic perspectives on law, and suggests ways in which law and other social institutions interpenetrate each other.Legal Change
Chapters 2 through 4 survey Durkheimian, Marxian, and Weberian theories of how legal systems change in response to other broad-scale social transformations. The goals of these chapters are to present a more comprehensive survey of these “classical” theories than has been available from any other single source, to offer a framework that allows students to compare their arguments in a systematic way, and to suggest the implications of these theories for contemporary debates about the character and fate of Western law. Thus, although I do not explicitly discuss contemporary theoretical movements (e.g., poststructuralism in its many forms, semiotics, critical legal studies, critical race theory, feminist theory, and neoinstitutionalism), these chapters lay an important foundation for advanced study along these lines.[Page xv]
Chapter 5 is a transitional chapter that describes how American sociolegal thinkers attempted to rework European themes and adapt them to the evolving context of American society. Legal change was only a secondary concern of these scholars; they were more centrally concerned with understanding how law was more or less effective in achieving desired policy goals. Discussion of their preoccupation with the problematic relationship between “law in the books” and “law in action” sets the stage for the two chapters that follow.Legal Action
Chapters 6 and 7 examine mid-twentieth-century American civil rights reforms as laboratories of law in action. Focusing on the examples of voting rights, school desegregation, and equal employment opportunity/affirmative action (EEO/AA) law, the question is simply, What made these legal initiatives more or less successful in reducing discrimination? Again, the orientation of these chapters is analytical, not just descriptive. This is stressed in two ways. First, I encourage students to think carefully about what we mean by “effectiveness”: What kinds of measures do we use to assess constraints imposed on minority voters, the degree to which schools are segregated, and the impact of race and gender discrimination in the workplace? Second, the narrative places these reforms in a comparative framework that allows students to assess systematically how various factors have influenced the effectiveness of these laws. By moving from the relatively simple case of voting rights to the increasingly complex (and, arguably, less successful) cases of school desegregation and EEO/AA law, the analysis builds toward a coherent set of generalizations.The Legal Profession
The professionalization of law is an issue that is central to a general understanding of legal development. It is also likely to be of considerable interest to students regardless of whether they are planning on a legal career. Chapter 8 begins by outlining a sociological perspective on professionalization as a political project, then proceeds to place the American legal profession in this broader conceptual context. The issue here is how and to what degree the profession has managed to control growth, competition, and the conditions of legal work since its inception in the late nineteenth century. Again, the presentation of graphic and tabular data encourages students to engage the information in analytical terms.[Page xvi]
Chapter 9 brings the discussion up to date by describing recent transformations in the conditions of legal work-globalization, the numerical growth of the profession, the influx of women lawyers, and “megalawyering”—and the impact of these trends on stratification within the profession.
My personal goals in writing this book are simple but ambitious. I hope to communicate to students my own enthusiasm for studying the social aspects of law, to convince them that law is a pervasive aspect of the social world they experience every day, and to provide them with some of the tools they need to satisfy their ongoing curiosity about the role of law in social life. lowe a number of debts to people who have helped to make this a better book. I have learned a great deal from colleagues about the goals they set and the problems they encounter in teaching the sociology of law. I have learned even more from my students, who have suffered bravely through several versions of this brief curriculum and often gave me unvarnished feedback. This book reflects much that they have taught me about their understanding of law and about learning in general.
Thanks are due to Craig Calhoun for encouraging me to write this book in the first place and for sharing his reactions to chapter drafts. Celesta Albonetti, Jon Cruz, Mitch Duneier, Lauren Edelman, Howard Erlanger, Ryken Grattet, and Susan Silbey each offered critical comments on all or part of the book, for which I am grateful. Thanks to Steve Rutter, Charles Ragin, Woody Powell, and Wendy Griswold for publishing my work. Thanks to Heather Haveman for her high standards of intellectual craftsmanship, and for so much else.[Page xviii]
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