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Functions of law
Law, in the modern sense, is considered not as an end in itself, but is a means to an end.


- The function of law is to ensure the well-being of the society. Thus it is something more than an
institution for the protection of individuals’ rights


(1) Maintenance of law and order in society;

(2) To maintain status quo in society;

(3) To ensure maximum freedom of individuals; and

(4) To satisfy the basic needs of the people.

Important function of law

Social Control

Dispute Settlement

Social Change

Functions of law

1.To structure the government

2.To protect citizens ́ from the Government
3.To protect minorities from majorities
4.Setting standards of conduct behavior
5.To create orderly change-rather than revolution or anarchy
6. To resolve disputes peacefully
7. To punish wrong doers
8. To compensate victims
9. Taxing Revenue for the Government
10. Reallocate Resources
11. To foster stability, reliability, predictability etc.
12.To foster & promote morality
13.To promote health & safety

Most general and broad functions

1) Social Control
2) Conflict resolution
3) Social facilitation
4) Integration
5) Social engineering
6) Social welfare



The Sociology of Law has its earliest foundations in the scholarship of Max Weber and Karl Renner,
amongst many other distinguished contributors, including Émile Durkheim and Vilhelm Aubert in the
20th century.

The field aims to transcend traditional legal boundaries by bringing into consideration the role of society
and its system of values and norms.

In this area, it is necessary to consider the legal structure, legal process and that:

- Law needs to be understood as part of social institutions

- It is important to critically analyse how law and society interact with each other.
- Legal categories and legal reasoning interact with social hierarchies based on race, class, gender
and sexuality.
- It is important to analyse relations between law and social control and social change.

A sociological interpretation and application of the law, however, does not bar the study of rules but
only “differentiates between the proclaimed objectives of legal norms, on the one hand, and the actual
workings and consequences of law, on the other”

Some key thinkers

- Max Weber
- Vilhelm Aubert
- Emile Durkheim
- O kahn – Freund.

The Sociology of Law is a focused and critical field in understanding legal mechanisms and legal practice,
as well as establishing the foundation of jurisprudence. However, a definition and general framework
need constructing so that the right questions can be formulated. The field transcends specific matters
and enriches learning both in the theoretical and practical sense by offering a more nuanced and
enriched analysis.

Social theories of law


He believed that positive law which looks at “law” as the sum of statutes and court pronouncements
could not adequately capture the legal reality of a culture or society.

Legal norms

- Strictly legalistic.
- Legislated (positive) law mostly serves to contain or punish errant or deviant behaviors.

Social norms

- Govern day to day conduct

- Permeate deeper in to the fabric and consciousness of society, hence must be regarded as a
component of “Law”.

“living law” is a framework of structuring social relationships.


Law as a tool for integration.

As society progresses from simple to complex the role of law changes.

Theory of legal change

Repressive law

- Laws of a small, close-knit, highly religious and traditional societies where a small
infraction of the rules is met with severe repercussions.

- Used to evoke fear, and consequently obedience from members.

Restitutive laws

- Allows violators to make amends for damage, and reintegration to the mainstream.

- It secure group order as well as allow pluralism and varieties of behaviour.


“pre-industrial” laws are personalistic and partial to privileged sectors.

Many of the rules, contracts and agreements are not written down or explicitly expressed.

“modern” laws are creature of reason.

Based on procedures that apply fairly and equally to all.

Codified or written down.

“Legal” study of law involves the law’s “internal” structures.

- looks at law’s meaning and scope.

- Lawyers and law practitioners are interested in determining the validity of the law.

“sociological” study of law deals on the “external” or empirical effects of the application of law to

- focuses on the law’s role or impact upon reaching society.

- Social scientist studying law is interested in what happens when people act in a society with
law in mind.


Law’s role in society is to be that integrativist mechanism of social control.

Law has an “integrative” function, and the lawyer’s role is crucial in that he mediates between the
technical requirements of the legal system and the needs of individual members of society for justice
and equal treatment.

Functionalist view of law, one which explains phenomenon.


Instrumentalist vision of law, which looks at law as a tool for power serving the rich and powerful rather
than used for the delivery of justice to the citizens.


There is an agreement among members of a society in transforming their norms and values into laws,
giving the former more strength and general enforcement.

Sees society as an expression of its own values and norms developed and institutionalized in time by its


Emphasizes interests (over norms and values) and how these interests interact to form “conflicts” which
are but normal facts of societal life.

Conflict theorist believe that coercion rather than consensus cause social order.

Laws “serves the powerful over the weak” and that law is “used by the state… to promote and protect