Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Law and Anthropology
Patricia E. Erickson
Law and anthropology (or legal anthropology) examines the relationship among society, culture, and law in societies at various levels of political, economic, and social complexity. Legal anthropology is a subfield of the discipline of anthropology; however, its subject matter is also a focus of interdisciplinary analysis in fields such as criminal justice, law, philosophy, and sociology. These academic disciplines analyze the cultural context of laws and rules, the processes of their development, how different societies structure competition and conflict, the manner in which legal institutions function to maintain social control, and the range of mechanisms used for settling disputes and maintaining social cohesion. In addition, applied legal anthropologists, such as forensic anthropologists, use anthropological information to provide direct assistance regarding legal issues. Scholars credit Sir Henry Maine (1822–1888), an English comparative jurist and historian, as the founder of legal anthropology. In Ancient Law , Maine developed a theory positing that ...