Lawrence Friedman, an American law professor and expert in American legal history, once said, “Law is a massive vital presence in the United States. It is too important to be left to lawyers”. This statement advocates the involvement of society in legal matters and subtly sums up the raison d’être of the Law and Society movement. This movement, representing an unchallenged relationship between law and culture, was initiated after the Second World War by some sociologists who took a keen interest in the study of law.The Fusion of Law and CultureLaw cannot be made mutually exclusive of the culture that it operates in. This is because the law of a land is to a large extent defined by the socio-cultural norms and morals. This is the reason why the practice of law varies across countries. This relationship is further strengthened when law becomes interconnected with all aspects of life, from religion to education, medicine, horticulture and other fields.
Do you ever wonder why people feel fascinated by lawyers, judges, intricate legal cases and the judiciary? Why do writers feel the urge to write novels about law? Why do people get mesmerized while reading about lawsuits and legal issues? How do theatre actors transform themselves into subtle and witty attorneys? Because, law has such a strong hold over our society and it is almost impossible to segregate law and culture.Law and Culture in American ContextAmerican sociologists believe law to be itself a cultural form that is formulated, established and shaped by the society in which it operates. Similarly, the culture of a society is formed and modified by the disciplinary legal forces.Moreover, the popular concept of law has now entered the domain of creative arts and media. Various plots and narratives revolve around legal actions that arouse the interest of the spectators, who by nature are always curious about the world of law. These concocted manifestations have changed the very way in which law operates. Today, law and culture mingle together to determine standards that are to be followed by the inhabitants of a particular society.
The Forum on Law, Culture & Society is a public humanities program that invites you to quench your thirst for knowledge on matters related to law and culture. The forum gives you the opportunity to converse with prominent artists and leading public figures. Visit http://www.forumonlawcultureandsociety.org/ and join the community. It is open to everyone and free!