In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Law and Society

  • Introduction
  • Journals and Collections

Sociology Law and Society
Joachim J. Savelsberg, Lara L. Cleveland
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 September 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0113


Law and society studies address the mutual relationship between law and society with its different actors, institutions, and processes. Law is created and put into practice through societal processes. Simultaneously law effects and affects social change. Beyond a causal relationship, law is further understood to constitute social institutions such as the polity, family, property, corporation, crime, even the individual. The study of law and other specializations in the social sciences are thus closely interwoven. Law and society studies represent a multi- and interdisciplinary field. This bibliography therefore contains references to both sociological and nonsociological literature, while its location in a sociology bibliography suggests that we privilege sociological titles. Doing so is also justified as, organizationally, law and society studies grew out of sociology, especially in the United States. Additional sociological references can be found in the Oxford Bibliographies article Sociology of Law by Mathieu Deflem. The field of law and society studies to which scholars from many disciplines such as anthropology, cultural studies, history, jurisprudence, linguistics, philosophy, sociology, and political science contribute is large. A bibliography of some 150 titles thus has to be highly selective. The authors’ specializations affected which areas to include, despite their effort to be broad; and even in these areas many powerful works had to be left out. Institutionally much work is done in the context of the Law and Society Association (LSA) and presented at its annual meetings every few years in cooperation with related associations outside the United States. Yet, much work that is pertinent to law and society studies is conducted outside the LSA, for example in criminological contexts, where criminal law and justice and their relationship with diverse societal institutions are investigated, and in the Sociology of Law section of the American Sociological Association that seeks explicitly to apply a sociological perspective on law and that consciously cultivates links with other sections dealing with issues such as gender, politics, the economy, organizations, culture, globalization, or the family. Finally, while some of the work presented here is cumulative, many old and modern classics continue to provide guidance, formulate basic questions, and constitute reference points and identities. They are very much included in this bibliography.

Journals and Collections

More journals are devoted to interdisciplinary law and society research than can be listed here. They include many journals in the realm of criminology and criminal justice that include frequent contributions in line with the discipline’s agenda. Here we list those most central to law and society studies. Annual Review of Law and Social Science is the central review series for the subdiscipline, and Law & Society Review is the leading journal in the field. Among the other most prominent journals are Law & Social Inquiry, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, and Journal of Law & Society. The Journal of Legal Studies is also a highly regarded interdisciplinary journal.

  • Annual Review of Law and Social Science. 2005–.

    The Annual Review of Law and Social Science publishes one volume each year with review essays on specific themes from law and society studies, authored by recognized authorities in the field. The essays provide an overview of publications on each topic, while typically focusing on specific aspects and raising prospects for future research.

  • Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. 2004–.

    The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies is a relatively new journal, founded in 2004 by the Society for Empirical Legal Studies, with an international advisory board. The journal is devoted to empirically oriented articles in law and law-related fields from a variety of legal environments.

  • Journal of Law & Society. 1974–.

    The Journal of Law & Society is the leading British sociolegal studies journal. Interdisciplinary and international in nature, scholarship published in the journal addresses issues from a variety of legal cultures and includes theoretical contributions of cross-cultural interest.

  • Journal of Legal Studies. 1972–.

    The Journal of Legal Studies, founded in 1972, publishes interdisciplinary academic research into law and legal institutions. Emphasis is on social science approaches. Economics, political science, and psychology are most prominently reflected.

  • Law & Social Inquiry. 1976–.

    Law & Social Inquiry is the journal of the American Bar Foundation, a nonprofit national research institute. Promotes theoretical and empirical research on law and legal institutions. Founded in 1976 as the American Bar Foundation Journal, the journal publishes original studies on sociolegal topics including legal institutions, the legal profession, and legal history. It was renamed Law & Social Inquiry in 1988.

  • Law & Society Review. 1966–.

    Law & Society Review, founded in 1966, publishes work about the relationship between society, law, and the legal process. The journal publishes work from a broad array of fields reflecting the disciplinary diversity of its associated membership organization, the Law and Society Association.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.