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This study of the role of law in society has become a standard work in the ethnology of law. The central theme of the book is that the same social processes which prevent the total regulation of society also reshape and transform efforts at partial regulation. In particular, the making of rules and social and symbolic order is as often matched by situational pressures to manipulate, circumvent, remake or replace the same, as it is to uphold them.
Using both pre-industrial and modern settings, Professor Moore examines the basic tension between the idea that law constitutes a conscious and rational attempt to direct society and most thought in the social sciences, that there are underlying causes of social behaviour which are not fully in the conscious control of the actors. Over a period of time reglementary control can be only temporary, incomplete and its consequences not fully predictable. The study of reglementation is, therefore, one of partial orders and partial controls in the specific social contexts. "All should welcome it as a stimulating contribution that will help keep the ethnology of law a lively subject." MAN