ABSTRACT

Scholars have long considered the relationship between law and its social context. However, too often, operationalizations of social context are limited to a single level, such as national context (for example, Trubek and Galanter, 1974), organizational context (for example, Blumberg, 1967) or individual context (for example, Ewick and Silbey, 1998). While perceptions of law do vary across cultures, within organizations or among individuals, until now, no one has considered the significance of variation at all three levels. This study expands our notion of social context and shows how it fundamentally influences the understandings and implementation of legal rules. It explores empirically perceptions of law at three levels of social context: the national context, the organizational or corporate context and the individual, or sociodemographic, context. Each level of social context comes with the potential to introduce variability into the social understanding of what law is, and to interact with the other two levels.