Contributions to the sociology of law : a critical reading of Marx and Weber : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology, Massey University

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The purpose of this thesis is to aid the process of uderstanding the sociology of law - what it has been and what it can be. It is most important to consider to what extent can law and sociology contribute in the real human struggle for economic, social and political freedom. There are points of convergence and important differences between the legal and the sociological approaches to the study of law and society. Today, interdisciplinary research is increasing at different levels of law and sociology, and a new analytical perspective, a contemporary sociology of law, has emerged. In order to point out new directions within this field of enquiry, we try to grasp the differences and interstices between the approaches made by law and sociology. Both perspectives are important in the analysis of the dual nature of law, that is, as a product of society and as a system making itself felt in society. Our concern in this thesis is with law as a social phenomenon from a sociological perspective, and in particular, with the contribution of Marx and Weber to an understanding of the relationship between law and society. The most important aspects of Marx's and Weber's contributions to the sociology of law have to do with philosophical and epistemological considerations. What Weber and Marx thought about human nature and how they conceived science is still fundamental to contemporary developments in the sociology of law. The critical discussion of Marx' and Weber's work attempts to show how partially conflicting and yet complementary sociological perspectives can contribute to a theoretical and conceptual convergence of sociological and legal approaches to the analysis of law and society. Traditionally Weber and Marx have been seen as belonging to two totally opposed philosophical positions. However, we explore here premises which they share, in the hope of opening a new dialogue between their legacies. The approach made here is tentative and certainly incomplete. There are no conclusive remarks which force a particular synthesis upon otherwise 'incommensurate' positions.
Sociological jurisprudence, Marx, Karl, 1818-1883, Weber, Max, 1864-1920