Law: Anthropological Aspects

Sally E. Merry, Matthew C. Canfield

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Anthropologists approach law as a form of normative ordering that includes rules and processes. The anthropology of law has evolved significantly from viewing law as a measure of civilization and savagery to understanding law as an emergent cultural feature and form of power. Contemporary anthropologists investigate law ethnographically, by looking at disputes in spaces that lack formal legal institutions and codified law, as well as in the institutional sites where law is produced. Plural legal orders, each invested with particular modes of authority, are seen as a feature of all societies. With the growth of globalization and transnational law, anthropology has extended its scope to explore the dialectical interaction between these multiscalar forms of law.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
    PublisherElsevier Inc.
    Number of pages7
    ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
    ISBN (Print)9780080970868
    StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


    • Anthropology
    • Colonialism
    • Disputing
    • Human rights
    • Law and society
    • Legal consciousness
    • Legal culture
    • Legal pluralism
    • Rule of law
    • Sociolegal studies
    • Transitional justice

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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