The term ‘society’ is used to mean a community or a group of persons, living in any region, who are united together by some common bond.
A ‘common bond’ is formed when some uniformity of factors like nearness, nature of the people, habit, custom, inhibition, beliefs, culture, tradition etc. appears. The ‘common bond’ leads to forming social rules or rules of social behavior. The rules are made by members of the society. Disobedience of the rules is followed by punishment in the form of social disapproval. There is no positive penalty associated with the violation of social rules except excommunication or ostracism.
But ‘law’ unlike social rules, I enforced by the State, Law, according to Holland is “a rule of external human action enforced by the sovereign political authority”. The objective of law is to bring order in the society with a view to enable its members to progress and develop with some sort of security regarding the future.
From the above discussion it follows that although custom, usages and traditions indicate a particular social conduct, law or definitive rules are made to ensure the peace and progress of a society.
The State makes laws. Disobedience of State laws involves a penalty which is enforced by the government through the sovereign power of the State. Whatever is not enforceable is not Law. Laws of the State are applicable to all without exception in identical circumstances.
Law and Social Objectives
Many jurists and social scientists in 19th century interpret the nature of Law with social perspectives ‘Ancient Law’ by Henry Maine, is the pioneering work in this respect. According to him, with social advance, law must be framed and changed on the basis social needs. Social scientists like Emile durkheim, L.T. Hobhouse, Max Weber, etc. observed that moral values rather than the settlement of disputes of interests should be the objective of Law. According to Rosco Pound, Law is profoundly related to the following three elements: (a) the legal structure of the society (b) constitutional ideals and principles and (c) legal procedure. The nature and the principle of Law of a democratic society must be different from that of an autocratic system. It has been accepted on all hands that Law is today one of the imperative tools for performing social purposes.
Change of Law and Change of Social Rules
The legal system of a country reflects the rules of society. If there is a change of social rules usually there occurs a change of law. For example, in the middle Ages in Europe, the landlord and the feudal system prevailed. At that time the rights of the peasant was very restricted. In modern times when the feudal system was abolished the rights o the peasant and the citizens were enlarged. Therefore change of social rules leads to change of law.
The converse of the above also applies, i.e. change of law leads to change of the rules of society. Legislation has enlarged the rights of Hindu women regarding inheritance, property rights and marital rights. In these cases the change of law has been accepted by the society. We can conclude that there is a dependence between law and social rules and vice versa.