Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Penetration of Law
Scholars have historically defined law and society as two distinctive, albeit related, realms of meaning and conduct. Jurists construed law as separate and relatively autonomous and understood that it originated in formal institutions and radiated outward to society. In this conception, they thought of society as the object on which law operates, with varying degrees of success. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) articulated such a view of law and society more than two hundred years ago, when he argued that the “spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habit and tastes of the judicial magistrate” (Tocqueville 1959: 20). Adopting this view of law, much sociolegal research has attempted to determine the degree and the conditions under which law actually ...