On Georges Gurvitch, Sociology of Law
The history of the intellectual engagement of the social sciences with law has often been written in terms of a division between two linked components: a theoretically oriented sociology of law existing alongside empirically oriented socio-legal or law-and-society studies. A major shift in Georges Gurvitch's intellectual orientation had occurred during the 1930s; a widening gulf opened between his commitment to the project of social law and his concern to elaborate a theoretically rigorous sociology of law. Gurvitch occupies an interesting place in the development of the sociology of law. In the period immediately preceding its quantitative expansion, he produced an explicitly conceived systematic theoretical intervention. What is significant about Gurvitch's Sociology of Law appears in the first instance as a contradiction. In order to engage fruitfully with Gurvitch's legal sociology it is necessary to touch briefly on some other features of its wider intellectual context.