Sociology of Law Defined

Sociology of law, also known as legal sociology, is a sub-discipline of law that involves looking at law and the legal system from a sociological perspective. Those studying law from a sociological perspective look at why laws are made, changed and followed or not followed based upon factors such as culture, cooperation, conflict, deviance inequality, power, socialization, social control and values. 

The field of legal sociology takes the sharpness and definitive structure of law and puts it in the hands of society and the norms and values that make up individuals, groups, cultures, and societies as a whole.  The sociology of law makes it acceptable to thoroughly analyze law and look at the who, what, where, when, why and how of the legal system as a whole and in parts. 

The sociology of law came into being as a field of study and research after World War II.  The roots and consequences of government control and influence, a major instigator of the second “great war” sparked the minds of sociologists everywhere.  They wondered how much and to what extent that society as a whole influences the law and the legal system.  Due to the empire and destruction that Hitler and his Nazi followers created, they became interested in how and why unjust laws are passed into law and how much power influences law.

Many sociologists began taking a look at law and the legal system as a whole during this period of time.  Many theories came about in the next few decades regarding the purpose and creation of law.  One theory indicates that law came about as a way to control society and its people, as an instrument of power.  Another theory claims that law was created as a response to the specific needs of society and that laws have a great deal more positive impacts on society than they do negative.  Yet another theory of many states that law is a social element in which role players constantly struggle for more and in turn, better lives. 

Although the sociology of law seems to be looked at more negatively than positively by those in the legal profession, it is an area that is intriguing and another perspective of looking at the law and legalities.  Law is ultimately created by humans, so connecting it with sociology is most definitely worth the time of sociologists.