The Pluralistic Structure of Social Norms in Non-Western Societies
The author investigates the following questions: 1. What are the differences between the legal culture of non-Western societies and that of the West? As a result of modernization, the most modern of legal systems in non-Western societies today have a very great deal in common with those of the West. However, at the same time, unofficial law in varied forms has also survived as a part of the social norms. From time to time it may be approved by the courts or administration, and taken as a part of official norms. Therefore, it has recently been emphasized that many indigenous elements of social norms, based on the traditional consciousness of the people or of custom, are keys to the understanding of legal systems in these societies as a whole. 2. Since neither empirical research into the sociology of law nor legal anthropology on socio-cultural realities in non-Western societies have yet deliberately investigated the issue, it is not currently possible to draw a general conclusion as to either the role of indigenous norms or their fair value. 3. However, it is worth examining some research-based opinions. Western observers such as Eugen Ehrlich or Adam Podgórecki, who consider that despite the pluralistic or contradictory nature of various indigenous legal norms in relation to a transplanted modern legal system from the West, the inclusion of these norms in non-Western societies brings with it certain harmonious functions.
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