The Study of Law

Law is a set of rules created by the government which citizens must follow or face punishment. It is enforced by mechanisms created by the government and can include fines, imprisonment or even the death penalty. However, the word can also be used to describe any strong rule that must be followed in general, such as your parents’ house rules or the law of self-preservation.

The study of law involves looking at the way these systems work and how they can be changed for the better. In some ways it is similar to studying the structure of an organism and how it works – it is all about finding out what makes something tick.

There are many types of laws. Some are very specific and focus on a single aspect of a person’s life, such as employment law which deals with the relationship between employer and employee, or family law, which covers marriage and divorce. Others are much broader and cover whole areas of a country’s society, such as criminal law which covers offences against the state or community itself and immigration law, which deals with a person’s right to live in a nation-state that is not their own.

Most countries have a legal system that includes both legislative statutes and case law. In the United States, for example, we have a common law system, which means that decisions made by judges on cases that come before them are recognised as being laws in their own right. This is based on the idea that judges who deal with similar situations will reach the same conclusions. In contrast, civil law systems such as Japan’s are based on codes which specify how judges must reach their decisions.

Other areas of law that are studied include administrative law, which covers the laws that govern how a government operates; environmental law, which deals with the environment; and labour law, which is about a tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union and workplace rights such as health and safety or a minimum wage. Criminal law is one of the most important branches of law and deals with the punishment of those who break the rules.

The study of law is an important part of the social sciences. However, there are debates about the extent to which a law-based approach is compatible with other approaches to knowledge. Some philosophers, such as Max Weber, have challenged modern thinking about what constitutes law and have reshaped the meaning of the concept.