Source: (1981) Law and Society Review 15(3-4):681-706, 883-910.

The focus of the sociology of law has shifted from distinctly legal institutions to the institutions and processes of disputing. It is probably fair to characterize much of the traditional sociology of law in the United States as being based firmly on the assumption that social conflict and friction are necessarily destructive. Further, it assumes that legal processes play an important part in managing conflict. Recent legal anthropological literature in non-Western societies has led to proposals for alternative dispute handling mechanism such as Neighborhood Justice Centers, which may be more effective than the courts in reducing certain types of potentially disruptive conflict.