The Behavior of Law, special edition. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd., 2010.
By Donald Black
"Creative work requires a willingness to take risks, and I felt at the time (and still do) that I would rather fail at something very important and challenging than succeed at something more pedestrian and manageable."
– Donald Black
Hailed as one of the most important works in the history of sociology, and a precursor to the revolutionary theoretical approach of pure sociology, this short and lucid book is as relevant today as when it was first published in 1976.
To honour this seminal book, Emerald is pleased to announce that it will publish a special edition of the complete text, including a number of additional features:
- A new foreword from Mark Cooney
- An interview with the author, entitled 'How Law Behaves'
- Reflections from a number of prominent sociologists on The Behavior of Law's impact over the last thirty years
- Author profile written by Randall Collins
At the heart of The Behavior of Law are a number of key principles linking law to other dimensions of social life, such as structures of intimacy, inequality, culture, and organization. These principles predict and explain a vast range of legal patterns, such as what people define as illegal, when they call the police or initiate a lawsuit, who wins in court, the severity of punishment, and the amount of damages a court might award.
The book's bold new methodology and concepts invite extension to other forms of social control, and the author shows their applicability to such subjects as etiquette, the treatment of mental illness, scientific ethics, and witchcraft accusations. The book also outlines the nature of anarchy as a social system and, when its theory is applied to current social trends, forecasts the future of law, including its eventual decline as a method of social control.
Remarkably, the theory is readily applicable to the behavior of law in any society, in any period of human history, and even predicts and explains the absence of law in stateless societies such as those of the Eskimo or Bushman.
To use its own imagery, The Behavior of Law maps out the geometry of social space and shows the location and direction of law within this space. It contains a theory that sociologists will long study, evaluate, and appreciate, and it will continue to be studied, tested, attacked, defended, and extended for many years to come. Sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and legal scholars will find it essential to be familiar with this book, and those interested in a scientific understanding of human society will experience a rare excitement in reading it.