Home >> Sociology of Law >> Anthropology and Law

Anthropology and Law

Some of the earlier sociologists and anthropologists made a sharp distinction between primitive societies governed entirely by custom and civilized societies ruled primarily by law. It was a major contribution by Malinowski to emphasize the study of social control as a whole and to distinguish the different types of rules that regulate behavior in primitive societies. Malinowski's definition of law and account of primitive law are no longer accepted but they greatly influenced the study of law as a type of social control in primitive societies and sociological discussion of social control. According to Roscoe Pound law is a social control through the systematic application of the force of politically organized society. In this regard law exists in many primitive societies.R.H Lowie writes about the developed system of administration of justice particularly among African Negroes.Max Gluckman has studied in detail the judicial process among the Lozi of Barotseland and has shown how closely it corresponds with the judicial process in western societies in the modes of reasoning and in the underlying concepts.

The anthropological studies have brought out clearly an aspect of the sociology of law that is emphasized by Roscoe Pound in his survey (E.A. Hoebel, The law of Primitive Man, 1954) which states that jurisprudence and the sociology of law have to be concerned with three things: legal order a regime of adjusting relations and ordering conduct by the systematic application of the force of a politically organized society, the authoritative principles and guides to the determination of disputes in a society a code of precepts based upon accepted ideals and the judicial process and the administrative process. The scope of the sociology of law is very wide and it overlaps with other fields of sociological study.