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Law and Society

Law and Society
A Sociological Approach

First Edition

August 2019 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This text introduces students to the study of law from a sociological perspective by focusing on four themes: the relationship between law and society; law in everyday life; the role of race, class and gender in the legal system; and current political debates that are connected to law. While explaining the essentials elements of law, and drawing on scholarly literature and relevant cases, the author does not advocate for normative views on law and the legal system. The text compares laws across various societies, discusses international law, and demonstrates how the laws of certain countries affect those of others--providing readers with insights into the nature of law within any society.

Opening Thoughts

List of Reviewers
About the Author
Chapter 1. Law and Society: An Overview

From Savagery to Civilization: A Brief Overview

What Is Law?

What Is Sociology?

The Norm Continuum

Cooperation and Conflict

Law and Everyday Life

Critical Analyses of Law

Social Justice and Constitutionalism



Chapter 2. Fundamentals of Law and Society

Substantive and Procedural Law

Private and Public Law

Common Law



Sociolegal Thinkers


Chapter 3. Sociologists of Law: Classical and Contemporary

Contemporary Sociologists of Law


Chapter 4. Criminal Law

Burden of Proof

Presumption of Innocence

Mens Rea and Actus Reus

Legal Defenses: Exemptions, Justifications, and Excuses

The System of Federalism

Eighteenth Amendment: The Criminalization of Drinking

The Case of Hate Crimes

Factors in Crime Reporting


Chapter 5. Civil Law


More on Due Process

The Seventh Amendment


Chapter 6. Administrative Law

The Rivalry Between Administration and Law


Independent Regulatory Agencies

The EPA and the Clean Air Act

The Process of Environmental Regulation

Who Are the Administrators?

The Regulatory Trilemma


Chapter 7. Law and Social Control

Class Domination

Subtypes Within Legal Control

Social Control: Three Basic Forms

The Sanction Continuum

More on Legal Control

Collegial Formations and Authoritarian Drift



Chapter 8. Hunting and Forest Laws

Forests: A Brief History

Law and Public Policy

Forest Fires and Forest Policy

Radical Environmentalism


Chapter 9. Are Judges Biased?

Research Evidence on the Question of Judicial Independence

Justice Stevens and Six Constitutional Amendments


Chapter 10. Law School and the Legal Profession

Historical Antecedents to the Law School

The Idea of a Profession

Applying to Law School

The Goals of Law Schools

Passing the Bar

The Changing Composition of Law School

Professional Ethics

First-Year Law Training: The Socratic Method



List of Legal Cases

The benefits of [this book] are the excellent and contemporary coverage of different types of law (especially problem-solving courts), critical themes including a separate chapter on law and equality, and the focus on the important interrelations between legal and political (state) institutions. The case studies in the chapters are interesting, contemporary, and highly relevant. Further, the future of law and trends is put in historical context and projected to the future. This is highly beneficial for students to be able to get exposed and see demonstrated theoretical and analytical tools, their application, and most importantly, their utility.

Sanjay Marwah
CSU-East Bay
Key features
Author James Chriss is a sociologist who researches and publishes extensively in the fields of law, crime, and delinquency.
The text's major themes give it a solidly sociological perspective on the law.
The author intentionally avoids advocating for liberal or conservative orientations toward the law and legal system.
Includes coverage of international law and the challenge of enforcing laws that transcend national boundaries.
At 10 chapters and 280 pages, it offers a succinct and affordable overview of the field.

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