This chapter examines how ethnography represents both an epistemological approach and methodological tool in generating knowledge and understanding about subjects of social research. It highlights a qualitative, grounded and empirical perspective on research that stands in contrast to positive approaches to schemas or normative theories of social life based on the objective nature of ‘truth’. As law forms an integral part of social life how it is constituted, legitimated and interpreted varies under conditions of wider plural legal constellations. The chapter explores these dynamics in a transnational world that gives rise to differing forms of representation and meaning in the production of knowledge to varying effects. In doing so, it raises questions about new forms of engagement, along with the multiple dimensions of power that are at work across time and space that give rise to inequality and social differentiation in all of their numerous manifestations.
Exploring the conceptual foundations for sociologically sound jurisprudence, and inspired by neighbouring sub-disciplines like the sociological theory of law or sociological jurisprudence this chapter puts forward an institutional theory of law that accounts for the wealth of legal phenomena and provides a working concept of law for sociology. It discusses key issues in the tension between sociology of law and jurisprudence and revisits the is/ought distinction as it applies to sociology and to jurisprudence, considering legal norms and processes as the institutional elements to test the two disciplines. Norms operate in communicative spaces, as patterns for action that influence peoples' expectations, social actions and the settlement of social conflicts. Sociology of law thus contributes to jurisprudence, distinguishing law from other normative systems, and legal norms from other types of norm.
Recognising that formal written rules only go so far, empirical socio-legal studies collect information about how people talk of and use property, aiming to understand what the concept means in daily lives, how it operates and affects others. Researchers emphasise that property rules and concepts are not neutral or natural but rest on specific ontologies of law and belief. Addressing these multiple and fragmented understandings of property, this review considers four aspects: property as an institution, property as practice, property as a socio-legal object and property as an idea. It shows that empirical socio-legal scholars have illustrated that property practices demonstrate belonging and caretaking, even without formal ownership. These practices matter even though, as institutional analyses remind us, social and spatial norms can develop into formal property only with decision-makers’ consent. We fail to acknowledge these institutional powers at our own risk.
Edited by Jiří Přibáň
This chapter assesses current prospects for sociological jurisprudence, which it defines as an approach to jurisprudence that stands between - and has different aims from - both sociology of law and legal philosophy. However, sociological jurisprudence must be informed by these other scholarly fields. It serves practical juristic needs rather than the disciplinary ambitions of sociology or philosophy, but it necessarily relies heavily for its practical relevance on the insights of contemporary social science and on analysis of legal values. The chapter evaluates the legacy of previous scholarship in sociological jurisprudence, including the contributions of Selznick, Teubner and Northrop. In particular, it considers what remains of value and what should be discarded in Roscoe Pound’s sociological jurisprudence which has often, in the past, been seen as demarcating the field in the Anglo-American context.