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This book presents a distinctive approach to the study of law in society, focusing on the sociological interpretation of legal ideas. It surveys the development of connections between legal studies and social theory and locates its approach in relation to sociolegal studies on the one hand and legal philosophy on the other. It is suggested that the concept of law must be re-considered. Law has to be seen today not just as the law of the nation state, or international law that links nation states, but also as transnational law in many forms. A legal pluralist approach is not just a matter of redefining law in legal theory; it also recognizes that law's authority comes from a plurality of diverse, sometimes conflicting, social sources.
The book suggests that the social environment in which law operates must also be rethought, with many implications for comparative legal studies. The nature and boundaries of culture become important problems, while the concept of multiculturalism points to the cultural diversity of populations and to problems of fragmentation, or perhaps to new kinds of unity of the social. Theories of globalization raise a host of issues about the integrity of societies and about the need to understand social networks and forces that extend beyond the political societies of nation states. Through a range of specific studies, closely interrelated and building on each other, the book seeks to integrate the sociology of law with other kinds of legal analysis and engages directly with current juristic debates in legal theory and comparative law.