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The Place of Law: The Role and Limits of Law in Society
  • Larry D Barnett

The Place of Law addresses two questions that are critical to understanding law. Why is law an evidently universal, enduring institution in modern societies? And why do the concepts and doctrines of law differ between jurisdictions (states or nations) at one point in time and vary within a jurisdiction over time? In this stimulating volume, Barnett suggests answers to these questions, and in doing so, he challenges popular assumptions regarding law in structurally complex, technologically advanced, democratic societies. In particular, Barnett questions the assumption that social behaviors central to such societies are effectively controlled by law and the assumption that individuals are responsible for the doctrines and concepts of law. Instead, he contends, law on society-important behaviors is due to society-level forces and reflects rather than shapes these behaviors.

The macrosociological framework for law Barnett proposes is important because it is concerned with activities that are fundamental aspects of social organization, and even though it conflicts with established beliefs about law, the framework cannot be simply dismissed since it is grounded on a substantial body of quantitative research. The innovative approach to law in the book thus offers scholars and students a fresh perspective on the role of law in modern societies.

  • law,
  • society,
  • macrosociology,
  • social organization,
  • law and society
Publication Date
September, 2011
Transaction Publishers
Citation Information
Larry D Barnett. The Place of Law: The Role and Limits of Law in Society. (2011)
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