Formal, codified law emerges as societies grow in size and complexity. Historically, the development of legal systems and the process of modernization—including industrialization, urbanization, democratization, and stratification—are closely linked throughout the world. Legal structures emerge when the social structure of a given society becomes so complex that traditional regulatory mechanisms including folkways and norms, as well as other traditional methods of settling disputes, such as small-town hall meetings, no longer suffice. When societies can no longer depend on informal customs, mores, and conventions, nor can they call upon community, religious, or moral sanctions to regulate social life, people begin to construct formal legal structures to address social problems and keep citizens safe from harm, to control citizens, and to settle disputes between and among citizens. Formal and institutionalized regulatory mechanisms arise when other methods of controlling people’s behavior are no longer sufficient.
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THE EVOLUTION OF LEGAL SYSTEMS