Generational relations and the law
The law, either in the form of written statutes or of other legal (juridical) expressions, practices and interpretations, is a social phenomenon which shapes the life course. In nineteenth-century classical sociology the law was denoted as having many different meanings and roles in social life. The term ‘law’ was used to refer to social norms that concerned socially important matters (e.g. Sumner 1957). The law was also seen as a way of binding individuals into society, signalling at the same time that social solidarity existed in society (e.g. Durkheim 1938, 1947). In addition, the law (especially ‘good law’) was seen as a way of supporting the individual’s own happiness (Hegel 1961). The law could also be seen as a political or rational way of arranging public control, with the result that certain ways of behaving were politically legitimised through legalisation. The law itself was conceptualised as emanating through governmental actions and enforced by functionally specialised agencies, such as judges, prosecutors, and administrative officials (e.g. Rheinstein 1954).