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American LawAn Introduction$
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Lawrence M. Friedman and Grant M. Hayden

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190460587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460587.001.0001

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Law: Formal and Informal

Law: Formal and Informal

(p.19) 2 Law: Formal and Informal
American Law

Lawrence M. Friedman

Grant M. Hayden

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses formal and informal law and its operation in both public and private institutions. Formal law includes rules established by an institution according to certain processes; informal law involves the unwritten, customary aspects of the legal system. Within this framework, there is the possibility of illegitimate processes, such as formal rules that are only haphazardly enforced or vigilantism and other forms of popular justice. The final part of the chapter discusses how larger, more diverse groups of people often bring with them conflicting private norms that lead to the development, and imposition, of more formal law.

Keywords:   formal law, informal law, private law, public law, vigilantes, norms

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