The Study of Law


Law is the system of customs, practices, and rules governing behavior in a particular community that are recognized as binding by that community. It is enforced through a controlling authority, such as a judge or jury. Law consists of both written and unwritten laws. Its history spans many centuries, and its development is the subject of much scholarly inquiry.

Law touches on all aspects of human society. It regulates contracts; protects people’s property, rights, and privacy; provides for justice; and defines the limits of government power. It also raises important ethical questions, including those concerning equality and fairness.

The study of law is often a combination of several disciplines, such as philosophy, religion, history, political science, economics, and sociology. It is a rich source of debates on issues such as whether law should be based on morality, science, or some other principle; and how laws should be changed and improved. Law is a major subject of study for students of public policy, and it is often used as a model for other systems of government. For example, law is used to guide international relations. Other articles in this section examine the relationship of law to political structures, including constitutions; ideologies; and parties and political systems. Articles also deal with legal training and ethics, the legal profession; and the role of law in a democratic society. They also describe the relationship of law to the social sciences, such as anthropology and sociology.