Schools of Jurisprudence: Meaning & Types

The research or philosophy of law is known as jurisprudence. In order to have a deeper grasp of the legislative process, various jurists and academicians have attempted to explain it in general terms. The foundational principles of natural law, civil law, and international law served as the basis for modern jurisprudence, which emerged in the seventeenth century.

What does School of Jurisprudence define?

There is no set or uniform understanding of jurisprudence because people all around the world hold different ideologies and notions. It covers a wide range of topics. A jurist's discussion of the political circumstances in his or her society reflects the legal system that was in place there at the time. It is thought that the Romans were the first to learn what the meaning of law was. In jurisprudence, policy is combined with other disciplines, like psychology, politics, economics, etc. It is not taken directly from any state assemblies' or legislatures' acts.

Types of School of Jurisprudence

There are primarily five schools of thought in law; we will discuss these schools and the leading jurists within them.

Philosophical School

It is referred to as the law of nature and higher law, and it has played a significant role in the history of politics, law, religion, and ethics. 

According to Dr. Friedman, as humanity has failed to find absolute justice throughout history, ideas about natural law have also been evolving along with societal changes. Natural law was seen to have a divine origin in prehistoric civilizations, a religious and supernatural foundation in medieval periods, and a strong political and legal foundation in modern times. The natural law theory's belief in a universal order regulating all men and women is its most significant contribution to the legal system.

  • This school holds that the goal of the law is to preserve social harmony and uphold law and order in society, and that the only way that legal limits can be justified is if they advance the freedom of individuals in the community.

  • The philosophical or moral school is primarily concerned with how legislation relates to particular goals that it is meant to achieve. It takes an effort to investigate the justifications behind the creation of a specific law.

Historical School

Legal scholars from the Historical School of Jurisprudence discuss how society and the law are intertwined. The state's law is made up of all of society's customs and laws. A community's particular wants and demands are closely related to the social structure of that society. This idea demonstrates that the rule is the result of historical causes and effects. The law depends on people's broad awareness. The understanding has existed since the beginning of the public because no one had the authority to act as a sovereign and create laws.

  • Montesquieu was the first jurist of the Historical School. He claimed in his well-known book, "Spirit of Law," that the law must adapt to changing society.

  • Savigny is referred to as the second historian-school jurist.

Realist School

Many people's emotions have an impact on the decisions made by the law. Because the rule is taken into consideration at this school and is treated as truth, this institution is known as the Realist School. The judgments of the judges in the jurisdiction, in particular their mindset, are emphasized in this course. The emphasis at this institution is on the perspective and application of the legal and judicial systems. America and Scandinavia in Europe saw the emergence of the Realist School in the 1880s. America experienced a great deal of decision-making in 1890, and the cases, judgments, and points of view that informed those conclusions were all made public.

Two categories of realist schools exist −

  • American Realist − The scholars watched the judgments and learned from them in addition to their own experiences.

  • Scandinavian Realists − The academics only trusted their personal experiences in this regard.

Legal accuracy, according to Jeremy Frank, is a myth, and there is no way to predict the outcome of any wrongdoing since there are many variables and constraints that are left open to different interpretations. He muses over the actions taken by and planned for by jurists and judges. They reach their conclusion by applying the law. But what if both the choice and the facts are incorrect? There is no way to know for sure that judges will be able to understand all of the information and reach the right conclusion every time.

Sociological School

The integration of diverse schools of law led to the emergence of the "sociological school of jurisprudence." The main focus of this school's proponents is how the law interacts with other modern social organizations. This school holds that rather than individuals and their abstract rights, jurists should concentrate on the societal interests and objectives that the law serves. This institution views the law as a tool for advancing society. The sociology of law is influenced by how positive law and justice ideas interact. Law and other social sciences are linked by proponents of sociological jurisprudence, who see them as a synthesis of psychology, philosophy, economics, political science, etc. The law claimed that it was an applied science using practical research techniques.

According to Roscoe Pound, the main characteristics of sociological law are as follows: The sociological school's proponents place more emphasis on the practical than the abstract components of law.

The abstract ideas of analytical positivism, which place emphasis on the command or power aspects of law as well as the dead weight of previous culture and traditions that served as the primary focus of historical jurisprudence, are utterly rejected by sociological schools.

The following are the main phases through which sociological jurisprudence developed and evolved 

  • The father of sociological jurisprudence was Auguste Compte (1789–1857). The empirical method relies on observation and experience to create a link between the law and society.

  • The psychological stage is the third step in the growth of sociological law. Later in the 19th century, psychology had a significant impact on other social sciences, especially law.

  • The fusion of sociological approaches with those of other social sciences is the final phase of sociological jurisprudence development. It was thus understood that many social sciences represent various facets of human civilization.

Analytical School

Also popular as Imperative school of law, analytical school of law primarily deals with the laws that exist in present form with the objective to analyze. The scholars of this group explained law as the its relation with the state. According to these scholars, law is something the command emanating from the State. John Austin was one of the most proponents of the analytical school; therefore, sometimes, it is also known as Austinian school. Other known scholars are Jeremy Bentham (1748 -1832), Erskine Holland (1835 -1928), and Sir john Salmond (1862 – 1924).


The definition of law and its purposes were greatly aided by the five schools of jurisprudence. Despite differences in the arguments made by different schools' scholars, all of them shared a desire to "maintain law," and their only concern was how to better govern the law and administer justice on a broad scale, despite the various modes of justice. The ideas of diverse jurists evolve as time goes on, just as the law does. Even the Indian Constitution is subject to alteration by legislative and judicial interpretation. The Cyber Law, which specifies how cybercrimes will be punished, has been introduced to try to stop these crimes. The Indian Penal Code has also undergone changes in order to better combat these heinous crimes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which school of law explains balancing purpose of jurisprudence?

Ans: The goal of balancing the needs of the individual and the state is fulfilled by the Sociological School of Jurisprudence. This school contends that the current socioeconomic crisis cannot be resolved through the use of the legal framework that is already in place.

Q2. What is the importance of legal philosophy?

Ans: The philosophy of law frequently aims to set law apart from other normative systems, such as morality (see ethics) or other social customs.

Q3. What is the main idea of natural school of jurisprudence?

Ans: A legal doctrine known as "natural law" places special emphasis on the rules of nature. This school of law also stands for the notion that there are laws that apply to all cultures.

Q4. Who is the father of jurisprudence?

Ans: Though Aristotle is popularly known as father of natural law, but Bentham is referred to as the "Father of Jurisprudence." Austin expanded on his work. The definition of law was initially analyzed by Bentham.

Updated on: 17-Jan-2023

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