Sociology of law is a diverse field of study that examines the interaction of law with society and overlaps with jurisprudence, economic analysis of law and more specialised subjects such as criminology. The institutions of social construction and legal frameworks are the relevant areas for the discipline’s inquiry. At first, legal theorists were suspicious of the discipline. Kelsen attacked one of its founders, Eugen Ehrlich, who sought to make distinct the differences between positive law, which lawyers learn and apply, and other forms of ‘law’ or social norms that regulate everyday life, generally preventing conflicts from reaching lawyers and courts.
Max Weber in 1917, Weber began his career as a lawyer, and is regarded as one of the founders of sociology and sociology of law
Around 1900 Max Weber defined his “scientific” approach to law, identifying the “legal rational form” as a type of domination, not attributable to people but to abstract norms. Legal rationalism was his term for a body of coherent and calculable law which formed a precondition for modern political developments and the modern bureaucratic state and developed in parallel with the growth of capitalism. Another sociologist, Émile Durkheim, wrote in The Division of Labour in Society that as society becomes more complex, the body of civil law concerned primarily with restitution and compensation grows at the expense of criminal laws and penal sanctions. Other notable early legal sociologists included Hugo Sinzheimer, Theodor Geiger, Georges Gurvitch and Leon Petrażycki in Europe, and William Graham Sumner in the U.S.