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.

The Problem of Law in the Activist State

The problem of law in the activist state

This chapter shifts the focus of our discussion in two ways. First, we turn our attention from legal systems to legal action. Up till this point, we have been concerned with the impact of major social transformations on the structure of legal systems. Modern law, from this perspective, is understood as the product of increasingly complex social organization, the rise of capitalism, or the formation of bureaucratic states. Now we will reverse our perspective and begin to explore the ways in which law acts back on society. All law attempts to influence human behavior in one way or another. Sometimes the influence of law is obvious and trivial. For example, ...

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