Rivers, Rifles, Rice, and Religion
Chapter 2: Rivers, rifles, rice, and religion: paradigms and trajectories of legal change
Comparative law requires more than merely the identification of the elements and attributes of law, its enforcement, aims, and development. We cannot adequately overcome the hurdles of comparative analysis of law in diverse cultures and moments in time without an understanding of the historical foundations of law and the dynamics of legal change. How law develops historically should thus be the central concern of any comparative effort. Recall, however, that both the recognition of legal norms (law making) and their enforcement (law enforcing) involve an exercise of political authority, which, as described in the previous chapter, equates with legitimacy. Historically, therefore, law by definition first emerges in any society at the initial stages of the development of political institutions along with sources of political legitimacy. Similarly, in the first regimes in which, with or without political legitimacy, rulers developed the capacity to coerce, legal rules grounded on power also could be imposed. Thus from an historical perspective, we cannot adequately appreciate much less compare legal systems without some understanding of their relative degrees of political institutional development. Assuming, moreover, that the same or similar factors help to explain institutional features they share, the development of political institutions in any single society is apt to be shared by other societies with common institutional experience. These propositions lead to a core proposition of this book that legal institutions rest on political institutions that in turn develop in relation to the sources and uses of wealth.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.