Law, Culture, and Ritual: Disputing Systems in Cross-Cultural Context

Synopsis

"Oscar G. Chase studies the American legal system in the manner of an anthropologist. By comparing American 'dispute ways' with those of other systems, including some commonly believed to be more 'primitive,' he finds interesting similarities that challenge the premise that we live in a society regulated by a rational and just 'rule of law.' " - New York Law Journal "A witty and engaging endeavor.... A good contribution to our professional knowledge, and it is a must reading." - Law and Politics Book Review

"After reading Law, Culture, and Ritual, no one could ever again think that our legal proceedings are nothing more than an efficient method of discovering truth and applying law. Oscar Chase effectively uses a comparative approach to help us to step back from our legal practices and see just how steeped in myths, rituals and traditions they are. Scholars will want to read this book for its contribution to comparative law, but everyone interested in American culture should read this book. Chase shows us that there is no separating law from culture: each informs and maintains the other.Law, Culture, and Ritualis a major step forward in the rapidly expanding field of the cultural study of law." - Paul Kahn, author of The Cultural Study of Law: Reconstructing Legal Scholarship

"Having allowed ourselves to be convinced (wrongly) that we are the most litigious people in the world, Americans have become obsessed with finding (quick) cures. Oscar Chase's book sounds a salutary warning. By presenting striking comparative examples that shatter our parochialism, he forces us to examine the cultural roots of dispute processes." - Richard Abel, Connell Professor of Law, UCLA Law School

Disputing systems are products of the societies in which they operate - they originate and mutate in response to disputes that are particular to specific social, cultural, and political contexts. Disputing procedures, therefore, are an important medium through which fundamental beliefs, values, and symbols of culture are communicated, preserved, and sometimes altered. In Law, Culture, and Ritual, Oscar G. Chase uses interdisciplinary scholarship to examine the cultural contexts of legal institutions, and presents several case studies to demonstrate that the processes used for resolving disputes have a cultural origin and impact. Ranging from the dispute resolution practices of the Azande, a technologically simple, small-scale African society, to the rise of discretionary authority in civil litigation in America, Chase challenges the claims of some scholars that official dispute systems are more reflective of the interests and preferences of elite professionals than of the cultures in which they are embedded.

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2005