Understanding the Concept of Law


Law is a system of rules that a community recognizes as binding and enforced through the action of an authority. Its character changes over the course of history as society evolves, and it can be defined in a variety of ways. In a general sense, it encompasses the customs and practices that bind a group, including those that govern its social relationships, such as marriage laws and inheritance rules. The law may also include the rules that govern the activities of a business, such as intellectual property law and employment laws.

Law is the subject of a wide range of academic and societal debates. There are three main approaches to the concept of law: those that focus on its purpose, those that focus on its content and those that emphasize the role of law as a tool of political power.

Throughout history, the development of law has largely been driven by dramatic social upheavals. In this context, the law has been perceived as an expression of divine will and a means to achieve peace, but this confidence begins to wane, especially with religious division. In the 16th century, a change occurs: law no longer only seeks to guarantee peace but is increasingly used as an instrument of power. The concentration of legal power grows as the state tries to consolidate its peacekeeping systems, reduce privileges and control jurisdiction.

The modern era has seen many different attempts to describe law as a coherent system of norms. John Austin and Jeremy Bentham advocate utilitarian theories that focus on the purpose of law, while natural lawyers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau believe that law reflects a moral and unchanging order of nature. These theories are complemented by more analytical approaches, such as those of Hans Kelsen, who proposed a hierarchical model in which an individual legal norm derives its validity from a higher one and validates it in turn.

The field of law covers a large number of subjects and is constantly changing. Despite this, there are several important aspects of the study of law that remain constant. This includes the idea that laws must be based on an objective principle and that they must be justified by an objective criteria. Furthermore, it is important to understand how laws are created and what their practical effect is on people’s lives. This can help us to understand why laws are made and how they might be changed. This knowledge is important when making decisions about how to best live in a country that has different laws from your own. For example, you might want to know about civil rights laws in your new country or whether or not a law is constitutional. This will allow you to make informed decisions about what type of lifestyle is right for you. In addition, you might be interested in learning more about international law or employment law. Oxford Reference provides concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries on all aspects of law.