Law and society scholarship in South Africa has a relatively long, if fragmented, history. Before 1990, broadly understood, it was largely confined to a few legal academics and some sociologists and revisionist historians. While the latter focused on reexamining the orthodox history of the apartheid state, legal academics considered the role of the judiciary and the use of the law to repress political opposition and shore up apartheid rule.

At the University of Cape Town, the Socio-legal Research Centre (on the family), the Institute of Criminology, and law faculty members conducted sociolegal research. At the University of the Witwatersrand, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies engaged in research on a broad range of human rights issues, including policing, vigilantism, and security laws. In a climate ...

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