Law and Society / Edition 9

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This informative, highly readable and comprehensive book offers a balanced, current and comprehensive overview of the legal system and administrative, criminal and civil law in cross-cultural context. The book considers the most recent theories and research findings, and emphasizes developing trends. It focuses on the evolution of modern legal systems, current intellectual movements in law, interplay between law and social change and the main concerns and issues in the profession and practice of law. This is the only book that considers multicultural and cross-cultural issues in a contemporary context with an interdisciplinary emphasis. Extensive new material includes detailed and up-to-date discussions on the transformation of legal systems in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and some of the unintended consequences which promoted organized crime; critical race theory; community policing in Japan; trends in sentencing guidelines; and a variety of new developments in alternative dispute resolution and in the death penalty controversy. For anyone with an interest in law and society.
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Editorial Reviews

Serves as an undergraduate text in a one-term course on law and society, with chapters on major legal systems, theoretical perspectives, research methods, the organization of law, lawmaking, law and social control, dispute resolution, law and social change, and the legal profession. This sixth edition is in tune with global changes in legal systems, and offers new material on areas such as legal systems in Central and Eastern Europe, critical race theory, community policing in Japan, and trends in sentencing guidelines. Includes chapter summaries. The author is affiliated with Saint Louis University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132318853
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 1/31/2008
  • Series: MySearchLab Series for Sociology Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Steven Vago was born in Debrecen, Hungary in 1937. He was a brilliant student and athlete, and at the age of only 19, he became one of the legendary Hungarian Freedom Fighters during the 1956 uprising and revolution. He escaped to Austria just prior to the closing of the border between Hungary and Austria by the Soviet Army. He made his way across Europe and eventually to the United States. Vago matriculated from the University of Alabama where he received his B. A. in Sociology. Upon graduation, Vago furthered his graduate education at Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned two Ph. Ds: one in Sociology and one in Anthropology. During graduate school he was an integral part of the creation of an alcohol treatment program at Malcolm Bliss Hospital in St. Louis. Steven became part of the Department of Sociology at St. Louis University after finishing his graduate studies, and was a full professor there by the age of 37. Thereafter, he chaired the Department of Sociology several times, teaching at St. Louis University for over 30 years. During the 1970's, Steve was asked by the United Nations to work for its member agency UNESCO, and worked in Paris for several years in their Office of Population and Demography. During the years of Steve's involvement in the field of Sociology, he was frequently asked, by universities throughout the United States and Canada, to participate in a variety of discussions addressing the legal and social changes occurring in the former Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. In 1975, he met and married Kathe Hartley, a St. Louis on-air reporter working for the CBS-owned KMOX Radio in St. Louis. At the end of his teaching career in 2001, Steven and Kathe retired to Bellingham, Washington. Vago passed away in 2010, at the age of 73.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Theoretical Perspectives 31
3 Research Methods 71
4 The Organization of Law 99
5 Lawmaking 155
6 Law and Social Control 190
7 Law and Dispute Resolution 234
8 Law and Social Change 285
9 The Legal Profession 319
Index 373
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Over the past twenty years, the previous and progressively more comprehensive editions of this book not only became popular with law and society scholars, but were adopted as textbooks in more than 350 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. Extra printings for each edition along the way confirmed the usefulness of the text and the growing interest in the subject matter. This seventh edition is a result of the wide acceptance and demonstrated utility of the earlier versions. While reflecting the intent, perspectives, and basic plan of preceding versions, this edition continues to enhance the message with extensive new input. The material is more focused, reorganized and presented in a more integrated and relevant way for the benefit of students. The book remains in tune with ongoing global changes in legal systems and extensively incorporates the most recent theoretical developments and the latest research results. Much of the book has been rewritten to further increase clarity and readability and to include new trends, concerns, and controversies. The temptation to engage in merely cosmetic changes and verbiage alterations that are common in revisions has been successfully resisted. If a particular section was up-to-date, clear and useful, I did not change it just for the sake of change. Throughout the various revisions, my purpose remained the same: to prepare a book that is pedagogically sound, full with ideas and insights, informative and provocative to read, and distinctive in its coverage of the subject.

A substantial amount of new material has been included in this edition. The coverage now includes detailed and up-to-date discussions on thetransformation of legal systems in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and some of the unintended consequences that promoted organized crime; critical race theory; community policing in Japan; trends in sentencing guidelines; and a variety of new developments in alternative dispute resolution and in the death penalty controversy The many changes that have been suggested by students and reviewers have been considered and incorporated. All the chapters have been fully updated and expanded to reflect ongoing trends and current developments. There are close to 375 new resources and references, a significantly expanded list of further readings at the end of each chapter, and I have greatly increased the number of cross-cultural illustrations. I made a point once again of further emphasizing clarity of language at the expense of professional jargon.

The objective of this book is to serve as an undergraduate text in one-term courses. Although the book was written primarily for college students, anyone with an interest in law and society will find it useful, informative and provocative. The classroom tested and refined material has been organized and presented in a logical fashion, and each chapter builds on the previous one. Should one prefer a different organization of the contents, it would not detract from the value of the book. For example, if one desires, Chapter 9, Researching Law in Society, can be read after Chapter 2, Theoretical Perspectives, rather than at the end of the book. For a quick chapter overview, some readers may want to look at the detailed summaries. The suggested further readings are designed to provide a starting point for interested readers to pursue further a particular topic and to reflect alternative perspectives.

As I noted in previous editions, the study of the interplay between law and society is fundamentally eclectic. Knowledge about it has accumulated haphazardly. Intellectual developments in the field are influenced by a number of theoretical perspectives, resulting in a variety of strains of thought and research. In a sense, once again, more questions will be raised than answered. The abundance of unanswered questions and unexpected developments keeps the study of law and society challenging and appealing.

Writing a book always requires the cooperation, support and encouragement of many people. Prentice Hall reviewers Carol Bohmer, Ohio State University, Margaret Platt Jendrek, Miami University-Ohio; Suzanne Samuels, Seton Hall University; and Jeffery T. Ulmer, Pennsylvania State University made insightful and valuable suggestions. I also thank the many students (who over the years read and commented on and constructively criticized the multiple versions of the manuscript) for their no-nonsense feedback, demand for clarity, aversion to redundancy, reluctance to take things for granted, and willingness to talk back to their professor. Once again, without sounding redundant, it was most gratifying to work with production editor Kim Gueterman who superbly orchestrated the completion of this book. I am especially appreciative of the work of Ann Sieger who did an excellent job of editing this manuscript. The index was expertly prepared by Aristide Sechandice. As with the preceding editions and other scholarly endeavors, this work could not have been realized without the continuous generous pecuniary, moral, and spiritual support of the Vago Foundation, which alone provided the necessary infrastructure, secretarial services, library assistance, and magnanimously covered all expenses incurred in the preparation of this book.

Steven Vago
Bellingham, Washington
and Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia

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