Law, Order and Social Control

  • Joy Hendry


In this chapter and the next we are again taking as a focus categories from the English language, and we will examine manifestations of behaviour observed in different parts of the world which conform approximately to the specifications these terms encompass. The terms in question —‘law’ and ‘politics’ — overlap in any society. When a formal political system is distinguished from a legal system, it is still the politicians who design and discuss the laws, while a different set of professionals — lawyers and judges — put them into practice. In both cases we deal, on the one hand, with persons in positions of power — the subject matter of the next chapter — and, on the other, with the constraints imposed on members of the society at large by the mechanisms of control. In most societies, too, the people themselves constrain the acts of others among them in a variety of less formal ways.


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  1. du Boulay, Juliet (1976) ‘Lies, mockery and family integrity’, in J. G. Peristiany (ed.),Mediterranean Family Structures (Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Brandes, Stanley (1988) Power and Persuasion: Fiestas and Social Control in Rural Mexico (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press).Google Scholar
  3. Caplan, Pat (ed.) (1995) Understanding Disputes: the Politics of Argument (Oxford: Berg).Google Scholar
  4. Gaetz, Stephen (1995)‘ “Youth Development”: Conflict and Negotiation in an Urban Irish Youth Club’, in Pat Caplan (ed.), Understanding Disputes (Oxford: Berg) pp. 181–201.Google Scholar
  5. Pitt-Rivers, Julian A. (1971) The People of the Sierra (University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  6. Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1952) ‘Social Sanctions’ in Structure and Function (London: Cohen & West).Google Scholar
  7. Roberts, Simon (1979) Order and Dispute (Harmondsworth: Pelican).Google Scholar
  8. Thompson, E. P. (1991) Customs in Common (London: Penguin Books).Google Scholar
  9. Young, Michael (1971) Fighting with Food (Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Blythe, Ronald (1972) Akenfield (Harmondsworth: Penguin).Google Scholar
  2. Bohannan, Paul (1989) Justice and Judgement among the Tiv (Prospect Heights: Waveland Press; first published 1957).Google Scholar
  3. Cohen, Abner (1980) ‘Drama and politics in the development of the London Carnival’,Man 15: 65–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gluckman, Max (1955) The Judicial Process among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia (Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
  5. Moore, Sally Falk (1978) Law as Process: an Anthropological Approach (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul).Google Scholar
  6. Nader, Laura and Harry F. Todd (1978) The Disputing Process: Law in 10 Societies (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar


  1. Gulik, Robert van, The Chinese Maze Murders (London: Sphere, 1989) is a series of detective stories which demonstrate the value of an understanding of indirect and non-verbal cues, rather in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, but in a more openly culturally specific mode.Google Scholar
  2. Mo, Timothy, Sour Sweet (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990) is a novel about a Chinese family which settles in Britain, and the social constraints they experience more from the Chinese community than the wider British one.Google Scholar
  3. Ouzo, Mario, The Godfather (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1969), is a classic novel about the social control exercised among members of Sicilian/American mafia groups.Google Scholar


  1. The two ‘Disappearing World’ films, The Mehinacu (Carlos Pasini and Thomas Gregor, 1974), about a people of the Brazilian rain forest, and The Kirghiz of Afghanistan (Charlie Nairn and Nazif Shahrani, 1976), about a people virtually imprisoned on a mountain top between Russia and China, which they may not legally enter, both illustrate aspects of social control discussed in this chapter.Google Scholar

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© Joy Hendry 1999

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  • Joy Hendry

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