The Study of Law

Law is the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members. The study of law includes the analysis of the principles, processes and organization of a legal system, as well as individual areas of law. For example, criminal law is the branch of law that deals with criminal charges and convictions, while labour law covers the regulations on a worker-employer relationship (such as collective bargaining and the right to strike) and evidence law encompasses which materials can be used in court for cases to be built.

The study of Law also involves understanding the social, cultural and political implications of the rule of law. For example, the rule of law may be seen as a source of stability and cohesion in society, but it can also be perceived as a vehicle for oppression and inequality. In a democracy, the rule of law is supposed to ensure the protection of human rights and freedoms. However, the rule of law can be abused in the name of maintaining order or protecting national security, for example by authoritarian regimes that impose repressive censorship and systematically oppress minorities or political opponents (e.g., the military dictatorship in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected prime minister).

Aside from its formal definitions, law is generally understood to include any strong rules that are enforced by an authority or must be obeyed. This is a broad interpretation that could include house rules, traffic laws, the rules of a game or even the code of silence in the movies. It is this broad interpretation that is sometimes criticized by those who believe that law is nothing more than power backed by threats. Such criticism often focuses on the fact that tyrannical rulers issue arbitrary laws, or bad laws, that are still followed because of the power of coercion.

Those who disagree with this view of the rule of law point out that a government’s authority to govern is limited by the citizens’ ability to vote for and elect their officials. Further, a constitutional republic or democracy allows for the removal of officials who do not serve the interests of the people. In addition, these same citizens can make changes to existing laws or create new ones, thus limiting the amount of power that a government can exercise over its citizenry. This is a form of democratic control over the rule of law that Max Weber reshaped thinking on in 1917, when he developed his theory of social justice. Regardless of how it is defined, the fact is that the rule of law is an important part of a functional, well-functioning society. As such, the rule of law is something that every citizen should strive for, regardless of whether or not they agree with it. The law should be based on fairness, equality, justice and public awareness. It must be publicly promulgated, evenly enforced and independently adjudicated, as well as consistent with international human rights norms and standards.