Sociology of Law: Definition and Meaning

The works of sociologists and jurists at the turn of the 20th century can be used to trace the origins of the sociology of law. Max Weber and Emil Durkheim both conducted social studies that examined the connection between the law and society. The foundation of modern legal sociology is found in the works of early sociologists of law.

Legal sociology is the study of law as a functioning, influential social system that is used to govern societies. To think of law as a social system is to consider the goals that these legal texts pursue as well as the processes of law-making and its application (or the application of its texts and their activation in social reality).

What is Sociology of Law?

Sociology of law relates to consideration of legal structures (i.e., the legal system), legal procedure (how law is formed), and the role of law in societal transformation. As per sociology of law, it is crucial to examine how the law affects race, class, gender, and other socially significant values, underlining that:

Importance of Law in Society

A society needs the law because it establishes a standard of behaviour for its members. It was also created to maintain the balance between the three organs of government and to give all individuals adequate instructions and order regarding their behaviour. It maintains society's operations. Without law, there would be anarchy.

Modernization and societal change are facilitated by the law. It serves as a sign of societal complexity and the integration issues that come with it. Social change refers to desired changes in social institutions, social processes, and social organisation. When we examine the role of law in relation to social change more closely, we can distinguish between the direct and indirect components of that involvement:

  • Through its direct influence on society, law has a significant indirect impact on social transformation.

  • On the other hand, law has a direct connection to social change since it often interacts with fundamental social structures in an indirect way.

Relationship Between Sociology and Law

Law and sociology are related in such a way that one cannot exist without other. Sociology and society are closely intertwined, and each society has its own set of laws in this regard. Laws are thus a fundamental component of civilization. Sociology aids in ability of law to better comprehend society for easier regulation and law-making. The law also plays a crucial role in regulating society. If there was no law, then society would be nothing less than a jungle. Laws were created because people require rules and regulations to keep them on track. These laws are made and established by society as a whole, or they are created by elected governments. Sociology covers everything, from the idea's conception through its execution to its effects on society.

Significance of the Sociological Approach to Law

Legal sociology, which focuses on the study of law as a social phenomenon, cannot fully understand this phenomenon without drawing on the research from all other branches of sociology, including family, rural, urban, educational, political, and economic sociology. On the other hand, the knowledge gained in legal sociology contributes to the advancement of knowledge in other branches of sociology in particular and the Social Sciences in general.

From the foregoing, it can be inferred that legal sociology is a subfield of sociology that focuses on the study of a specific aspect of life, namely the legal, in order to better comprehend this effort on the one hand and increase our understanding of social life as a whole on the other.


Law is a set of rules and regulations that, if practicable, are applied through social institutions to regulate human behaviours. It influences politics, economics, and society in a variety of ways and acts as a social mediator of interpersonal relationships. Criminal law provides a way by which the state can bring the culprit to justice if the act is declared illegal by legislation. The formation of laws, the defence of human rights, and the choice of political representatives are all governed by constitutional law. The legal response to a specific social or technological issue is thus in and of itself a significant social action that has the potential to either worsen or ameliorate the issue at hand and contribute to its resolution.

Likewise, it may be concluded that the Sociology of Law has a lengthy history of devoted practitioners and supporters. It is a field of study that aims to go beyond legal conventions and push back against preconceived notions about how society and the law interact and relate to one another across all domains. In order for the discipline to continue to question conventional interpretations of socio-legal concerns, it is crucial that further learning and analysis be done in an effort to formalise the discipline's definitions, values, and constraints.


Q1. What are the different branches of sociology of law?

Ans. Law and social change, social control mechanisms, legal regulation, the interplay between legal cultures, and the social development of legal institutions are all topics covered by socio-legal studies.

Q2. What are the features of sociology of law?

Ans. Understanding law through the lens of society and its norms is the major objective of the sociology of law.

Q3. What is jurisprudence's sociology of law?

Ans. To put it briefly, "sociology of law" is an interdisciplinary method of studying the application of the law in society.

Q4. What distinguishes the sociology of law from jurisprudence?

Ans. Jurisprudence is the study of law and the legality of laws applied in various circumstances and organisations. As a result, even when studying the identical events, sociology examines society whereas jurisprudence concentrates on the law.

Updated on: 28-Jun-2023

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