Law and Society

Lynn Mather

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Law and Society


The study of law and society rests on the belief that legal rules and decisions must be understood in context. Law is not autonomous, standing outside of the social world, but is deeply embedded within society. While political scientists recognize the fundamentally political nature of law, the law and society perspective takes this assumption several steps further by pointing to ways in which law is socially and historically constructed, how law both reflects and impacts culture, and how inequalities are reinforced through differential access to, and competence with, legal procedures and institutions. This article discusses the key characteristics of a law and society perspective, some of the major research contributions of this field, and recent developments in law and society that hold particular promise for scholars of law and politics today. In particular, it examines three broad areas of law and society scholarship: disputing, decision making, and legal ideology and consciousness.

Keywords: law; society; politics; disputing; decision making; legal ideology

Article.  7599 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law

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