Law, Society, and Democracy: Comparative Perspectives
- Richard D. Schwartz - Syracuse University, New York, USA
In George Bush's Second Inaugural Address, he stated, "so it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture ..."
Along with such a formidable challenge, comes the essential need for scholars and policy makers alike to gain a deeper understanding of the interrelationship between law, society, and culture. Collected from the successful 2005 Syracuse conference of the same name, the papers in this unique issue of The ANNALS zero in on critical studies that focus on other societies – which are evolving toward (or away from) constitutional democracy and a rule of law.
Not to be confused with Social Darwinism, the term legal evolution in this context refers to the development or changes of law; and the papers included here demonstrate value-free objectivity – not labeling the results as either "good" or "bad." Rather than offering a prescriptive or claiming a precise forecast, this collection of thoughtful research examines the sociocultural foundations on which law is built, constructing the groundwork for the advancement of policy and further exploration in this intriguing area of study.
The intense research conducted by these authors shines through as they elucidate the patterns of legal development and governmental change in societies abroad. Their reports and analysis will help readers understand the diversity of sociolegal systems and divergent paths that have been followed as laws have developed in a wide variety of societies, including South Africa, Germany, Latin America Sudan, Saudi-Arabia, and China.
Terrorism remains an underlying issue in both a domestic and global perspective. Can law contribute to the control of terrorism? Are we moving toward global rules of law? What are the consequences of transitioning toward democracy? The thoughtful papers in this issue address these and other timely topics.
How can legal evolution be a useful tool for analyzing social change? How well does law in any society express and implement the needs of the population? What effect do social mores have on the effectiveness of law? The complexity of these questions cannot be easily answered. However, after carefully reviewing the rich collection of ideas gathered in this single issue, scholars and policy makers will gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of law and constitutional democracy.
Too complex for students in my course.