Law and Community in Three American Towns

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Many commentators on the contemporary United States believe that current rates of litigation are a sign of decay in the nation's social fabric. This book explores how ordinary people in three towns view the law, courts, litigants, and sense of social order. The authors are concerned about how symbolic distinctions between ``insiders'' and ``outsiders'' emerge out of local cultural patterns. One striking finding is that the sense of community in the three towns is a reaction to modern notions of pluralism. In a brief introduction, the authors, two anthropologists and a lawyer, present a useful guide to the field of ``legal anthropology,'' which developed only in this century. The authors note that, while their examination of life in American towns is not really unique, theirs is the first to focus entirely on the role of law and legal institutions. Although based on three originally independent studies, this book developed into a unified text with useful findings. Recommended to both scholars and interested lay readers.-Jerry E. Stephens, U.S. Court of Appeals Lib., Oklahoma City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801429590
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/1994
  • Series: 4/18/2002
  • Pages: 240

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Ethnographic Issues 1
Pt. 1 Ethnographic Studies 25
Ch. 1 The Oven Bird's Song: Insiders, Outsiders, and Personal Injuries in an American Community 27
Ch. 2 Making Law at the Doorway: The Clerk, the Court, and the Construction of Community in a New England Town 54
Ch. 3 Courting Difference: Issues of Interpretation and Comparison in the Study of Legal Ideologies 91
Pt. 2 Law, Values, and the Discourse of Community 111
Ch. 4 Avoidance and Involvement 117
Ch. 5 Connection and Separation 133
Ch. 6 History and Place 149
Conclusion: The Paradox of Community 172
Notes 193
References 209
Index 219
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