Sociology of Law: Visions of a Scholarly Tradition

Since the classic contributions of Weber and Durkheim, the sociology of law has raised key questions on the place of law in society. Drawing together both theoretical and empirical themes, Mathieu Deflem reviews the field\'s major accomplishments and reveals the value of the multiple ways in which sociologists study the social structures and processes of law. He discusses both historical and contemporary issues, from early theoretical foundations and the work of Weber and Durkheim, through the contribution of sociological jurisprudence, to the development of modern perspectives to clarify how sociologists study law. Chapters also look at the role of law in relation to the economy, politics, culture, and the legal profession; and aspects of law enforcement and the globalization of law. This book will appeal to scholars and students of the sociology of law, jurisprudence, social and political theory, and social and political philosophy.

• A systematic discussion of the sociology of law • Will appeal to sociologists and to legal scholars working on jurisprudence and law and society • Discusses both historical and contemporary topics, and combines theory with empirical issues


Introduction: sociology, society, law; Part I. Theoretical Foundations of the Sociology of Law: 1. Law and the rise of the social sciences; 2. Max Weber on the rationalization of law; 3. Emile Durkheim on law and social solidarity; Part II. Development and Variations of the Sociology of Law: 4. The theoretical move towards the sociological study of law; 5. From sociological jurisprudence to sociology of law; 6. Sociology of law and the antinomies of modern thought; Part III. Sociological Dimensions of Law: 7. Law and economy: the regulation of the market; 8. Law and politics: the role of democratic law; 9. Law and integration: the legal profession; 10. Law and culture: the balance of values through norms; Part IV. Special Problems of Law: 11. Social control: the enforcement of law; 12. The globalization of law; Conclusion: visions of the sociology of law.


‘Mathieu Deflem\'s book is a most timely overview of the sociology of law. It brings together a vision of the classical tradition before attending to a comprehensive survey of recent contributions to what has become an increasingly diversified field. He lays the basis for a fruitful engagement between these different strands. Participants will be more aware of the interacting visions of the field and will, hopefully, talk to each other again.’

– Alan Hunt, Chancellor\'s Professor, Carleton University

‘A most welcome immodest effort carried out with aplomb and clarity in the best tradition of scholarship! A learned book that takes ideas and students seriously in demonstrating the intertwining of theory and significant empirical topics within a distinctly sociological perspective. Necessary reading for anyone seeking a systematic and comprehensive introduction to the sociology of law.’

– Gary T. Marx, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

‘Mathieu Deflem’s cross national vision, much less confined by national and language barriers than most work, will greatly inspire the social scientific study of law. His firm roots in general sociology advance insights that are too easily lost when new speciality areas seek refuge in niches neatly separated from their mother disciplines. I highly recommend this book to advanced undergraduate students, graduate students and scholars alike.’ Joachim J. Savelsberg, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota

‘Until now, all of the diverse and valuable contributions to sociology of law have been scattered across the academic landscape. Mathieu Deflem organizes, synthesizes, and makes sense of them - so they can be used more effectively for the sociological study and understanding of law in society. If I were teaching a graduate seminar on the sociology of law, the first book assigned would be this one.’

– R. E. D. Schwartz, Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School

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