The Indispensable Relationship Between Sociology and Law


Relationship between Sociology and Law

There is an indispensable significance or relationship between Sociology and Law. The significance of sociology in legal discipline can be understood by answering the question – “Is law a reflection of society”? The question is a surmounting authority for establishing the indispensable inter-relationship between the two disciplines of “law” and “sociology”.

Sociology and Law
Image created through AI for Illustration

It has been a common notion among academicians and sociologists that if you are to understand a society, then, a plain reading of its laws is the first step in the process. The existence of a law pertaining to a certain subject matter implies the existence of such a subject matter in society or a reasonable apprehension about the coming into existence of such a subject matter in society. For instance, the existence of a law regulating fast-food consumption is either indicative of the existence of such fast-food consumption in the society (drugs- the subject matter) or indicative of the coming into being of such a fast-food consumption culture in the society with large scale establishment of fast food stalls.

For Ergo, “All laws are indeed made from the society and for the society”. When we say, “Laws are made from the society”, what we imply is that laws are a reflection of society or a mirror image of society. However, the same may not hold true, when we say “Laws are made for the society” as making laws for the society is an attempt of law to go beyond being a mere reflection of the society into altering the very society and moulding the society into being a reflection of the dictates of law rather than it (law) being the reflection of the society. Id Est., “Instead of law being the reflection of the society, the society is made to become a reflection of law”.

On that fulcrum, it is natural for one to perceive the act of “making laws for the society” as meddling with the society. However, what is to be understood is that had it not been for such action of making laws for the society, then, we would not have eliminated the age-old social evils of – “Sati”, “Dowry deaths” etc. Thus, making laws for society is necessary to give direction to how a society is to shape itself and appear as a whole.

Law cannot play a passive role of being a reflection of society and perfunctorily give recognition to everything in existence in society. Rather it has to and indeed plays an active role in selecting what in the society is to be given recognition and what is not to be given recognition and “shape the reflection of society”.

Thus, on that account, “Law is a reflection of the society but it is more a shaper of the reflection of a society” as the law is certainly made from the society, but it need not always be made for the society and law as a tool giving recognition to what a society must reflect must be very cautious of to what it gives recognition as what it gives recognition indeed reflects on the society. A perusal of the above lines is indicative of the relationship between the two disciplines.

Sociology equips lawyers with lenses to analyze any social issue

The three prime schools of thought in Sociology namely – “Functionalist”, “Conflict” and “Symbolic-interactionist” are equally significant in legal studies.

The entire legal process works on the primary ideology of the “Conflict School of Sociology” as it envisages any social process (including the legal process) as a struggle between two opposites or polar.

The legal process too, involves a struggle between two parties in whatsoever name called – (Petitioner Vs. Respondent), (Plaintiff Vs. Defendant) etc. is essentially a struggle between two opposites.

The functional school steps into action in the legal process, when the judge applies his mind to the case (conflict) before him and decides the merits of the conflict, that is – The judge has to decide whether the issue (conflict) before him is functional for the society or not? If yes, the case is heard or if not, the case is dismissed. While, deciding the same the judge indeed put on the thinking that of the functionalist school.

All the interactions between a client and legal professionals demand the understanding of the client’s self, his attributions, and the client’s symbols through which a legal professional can discern the client’s psychology. As, “Every client is a product of society” an understanding of a client’s interaction (symbols used by him including culture, language, etc.) is crucial for a successful legal practice.

Sociology and Law are two interrelated disciplines that study social order and human behavior. Law is a system of rules and norms that regulate the interactions and conflicts among individuals and groups in a society. Sociology is a science that analyzes the patterns, causes, and consequences of social phenomena, such as culture, class, gender, religion, and power.

Sociology and Law influence each other in various ways. For example:

  • Law can shape the social structure and culture of a society by defining the rights and obligations of its members, enforcing social norms and values, and resolving disputes and conflicts.
  • Sociology can provide insights and explanations for the origins, functions, and effects of law on society, as well as the social factors that influence the creation, interpretation, and implementation of law.
  • Law can be a subject and a tool of sociological research, as sociologists can examine the legal system and its actors, such as judges, lawyers, and police, as well as the legal issues and problems that affect society, such as crime, justice, and human rights.
  • Sociology can also be a source and a resource of legal reform, as sociologists can propose and evaluate policies and programs that aim to improve the legal system and its outcomes, as well as to promote social change and justice.

Thus, “Legal discipline devoid of sociology is akin to a chair without its legs as it is the sociology which is the foundation upon which the superstructure of law is erected”.

The views and opinions expressed by the author in this article are his personal opinions. You can contact the author/s at The details of the author are:

Mr. Arvind is a Law student at Chandigarh University (CU), Punjab (India).


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top