By Rajat Shandilya from Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University


In the sociological school of jurisprudence one basically studies the inter relation between society and law. The relational aspect between the society, an individual and a state also forms an integral part of this school of jurisprudence. This school saw its inception because of the amalgamation of many of the ideas of various jurists. The scholars of this school laid main emphasis on the relation between social institutions of the society and law. They further believe that it is the practical aspect of the law that is better than the theoretical aspect.

Therefore it can be very easily inferred that the main objective of the ideological base of the sociological school is to study the inter connected relationship between law and society and this approach can prove to be really effective when it comes to the resolution of the societal issues with an immediate effect.

However, it should also be taken into account that there are basically two approaches in this regard:

  • The direct legal process which is involved and is in the interest of promoting harmony in social interest.
  • The second approach is of relying upon the extra legal remedies which relatively ensures a balance of interests in the present day’s dynamic society.


The following are the frontline characteristics of the sociological school of jurisprudence:

  1. The main focus of this school is upon the practical aspect of law in context with the society rather than the theoretical aspect or the nature of law.
  2. The jurists of this school assumes law to be a set of authoritative guides that have a significant role to play in the decision making process.
  3. This school identifies law as a socio legal institution in the society that can be created and changed accordingly as per the   needs and demands of the society. In other words it can be inferred to be a blend of the analytical and historical schools of jurisprudence.
  4. Another thrust area of interest of the jurists of this school   is the in-depth analysis of the social principles and various social doctrines prior to reaching to the most appropriate solution of a social problem.


The foremost and the main reason that can be seen behind the emergence of the sociological school of jurisprudence is the  policy of Laissez-Faire according to which There should be very minimalistic control of the  government of a nation when it comes on to controlling or regulating the economy, whether in the public sphere or the private one.

It is also only due to the impact of the policy of Laissez-Faire only that the society prefers the capitalist approach rather than the socialist approach.

This school, being on the same page and adapting to the policy of Laissez-Faire, focuses on the advancement of a single individual instead of the well-being of the state and general interest of the common masses.


Some of the jurists of the sociological school that shaped and face of this school are as follows:

 MONTESQUIEU (1689-17755):

Montesquieu was a French jurist and according to him “Law is the creation of the climate, local situation, accident or imposture.” In simpler words his thought about law can be decoded as that he believed that ‘law is not the sole creation of the parliament or the law making authority but law is the creation of climate which exist in the local situation or condition and thereby according to local condition, the law develops according to the needs and aspirations of the society.

Montesquieu also wrote a book titled as ‘The Spirit of Laws’ which throws adequate light about his belief into politically enlightening ideas and in his work he also suggests his contention about how the laws are required to modify according to the needs of the people and society. He was of the view that the legal process is to a lot extent, influenced by the social conditions of the society.

He recognized the importance of history as a means for understanding the structure of the society.

He also emphasized on the importance of studying of history before formulating the law for any society.

AUGUST COMTE (1798-1857):

August Comte is a French jurist and is also regarded  as the ‘father of sociology’ as it was hewho coined the term ‘Sociology’  for the first time and described sociology as ‘A positive science of social facts’.

According to Comte the society is like an ‘organism’ and it could progress when it is guided by scientific principles.

His main emphasis is on the fact that law can be used as a medium through which the human society can maintain itself and progress further.

 He contends the notion that the development of the society is the development of human mind.

Comte offered an account of the social evolution, proposing that society is dynamic in nature and undergoes three phases in its ‘quest for truth.’                                                        According to Comte, the society develops in accordance with the ‘law of three stages’. The first being the ‘Theological Stage’ and the other two stages are the ‘Metaphysical and Positive Stages’ respectively.

EUGEN EHRLICH (1862-1922):

He is often termed as the founder of ‘Sociology of law’ and hence he has one of the major contributions to the sociological school of jurisprudence. According to Ehrlich, society is the means of law and by society means ‘Association of man’ in his work he writes that the ‘centre of gravity of All legal development is not in legislation or judicial decisions but in society itself’. He further contents that the society is the main source of law and better source of law than legislation of judicial decisions. According to Ehrlich law can be termed as ‘ living law’ when it comes from the people. He further states that law does not mean only statutes and court decision but includes legal reality of the community as well.

Moving one step further, he distinguished between the norms of decision (the judicial precedents) and norms of conduct (the norms that are useful for the regulation of the society) Also, it was Ehrlich only who said that ‘the social norms actually govern the society and hence can be termed as living law.’ Ehrlich held a strong view that ‘Living law is the framework structuring social relationship for peace and cooperation.

LEON DUGUIT (1859-1928):

Leon Duguit is a French Scholar and an important jurist of the sociological school. It was him who formulated the theory of ‘Social Solidarity.’ The theory of ‘social solidarity’ states that there should be social cooperation between individuals for their need and existence. Social solidarity can be termed as the ‘feeling of oneness’ and the term represents the strength, cohesiveness, collective consciousness and viability of the society. This concept lays emphasis on the interdependence of men on his other fellow beings.

According to Duguit ‘No one can survive without interdependence in the society and the objective of the law is to promote social solidarity and interdependence along with social harmony. According to him every man, being a part of the society, should take the responsibility to promote social solidarity.

ROSCOE POUND (1870-1964)

Roscoe Pound is a very well known American jurist who believed in the notion that the law shall be studied in its actual working environment and in its original form. Pound was the person responsible for the development of a new theory which came to be known as the ‘Theory of Social Engineering’. In his theory of social engineering, pound has tried to draw a comparison between engineers and lawyers. According to his theory as engineers are required to manufacture new products in the same way lawyers are required to ensure social harmony and are social engineers that are required to build a specific type of structure in the society which provides maximum happiness and minimum friction. Further in the theory he states that law is social engineering which strive to create a balance  between the competing interests in the society in which applied science is used for resolving individual and social problems. He further contents that the objective of law is to create balance between the interests of the people.


Various eminent jurists and legal scholars have admitted the fact that today’s society is dynamic in nature and in order to match up to the present day society it becomes important to first know the society.

In the present Indian context it is a well acknowledged fact that the adoption of the sociological school of thought of jurisprudence has become the need of the hour.

The same has been pointed out by various judges of the Supreme Court of India ranging from Justice P.N Bhagwati to Justice Y.V Chandrachaud and from Justice D.A Desai to Justice V.R Krishna Iyer that there is a need to adapt the sociological jurisprudential approach while interpreting the statutes.


The sociological of jurisprudence is undoubtedly one of the most significant schools of jurisprudence. This is the school which fits in to the needs of the present day society as there are a number of social problems that need a sociological approach to get solved.

This school has witnessed many great scholars who have contributed their part in its development and which have been duly disused in this article.

Conclusively it can be said that the Sociological school has seen a lot of development and still it has a long way to go in order to ensure a harmonious society.



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