Lawyers, legal philosophers and political theorists, not to mention ordinary folk, typically consider links between law and the state to be intimate, unseverable, and uncontroversial. Lively questions remain about the point of law, whether these are descriptive questions – what does law do? or normative ones – what should it do? but rarely about its proper location or source. These, it is assumed, are in institutionalized, centralized, and legally co-ordinated offices of state.
The major contribution of law and society studies to this discussion might be called cartographic. Researchers in this area have cast doubt on the common assumption that law and state need always be thought of as fused, like Siamese twins, as in the communist theoretical couplet, “theory of state and law.” For at least a century, attempts have been made to decouple the apparently obvious and necessary connections between state and law and to produce accounts of the nature, place, and functions of law in society, accounts that include the state but ’de-center’ it. Not everyone believes this detachment of law and state is a good idea, but it is a paradigmatically sociological idea.
Law and Society
Date of this Version
Martin Krygier, "Law and the State" (April 2007). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series. Working Paper 22.