Law is a set of rules that are imposed by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour and to protect people and property. It is a fundamental part of human society and the subject of much scholarly inquiry in the fields of legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. Law is also a key concept in political science, as it is often the means by which the balance of power between individuals and between groups of people is maintained.
There are many different types of law, with each area covering a distinct set of issues. For example, contract law deals with the exchange of goods and services or anything of value, including money. The property law field covers people’s rights and duties toward tangible or intangible items that they own, such as their homes or cars. The criminal law field deals with the punishment of those who commit crimes, whereas family law addresses divorce and custody proceedings. The business law field covers the regulations that govern commerce and money, such as taxation laws and banking law.
The lawmaking process varies from nation to nation, but in the United States it involves two chambers of Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate. Those who wish to create new laws must sponsor bills, which are then researched, discussed and changed before they are put to a vote. When a bill passes both houses, it becomes law.
Laws are enforced by a variety of methods, including censorship, police and the military. Some of the most important laws are those that govern the behavior of citizens, ranging from the prohibition against fraud to the requirement that one speak clearly when communicating.
In addition to the legal subjects mentioned above, there is a wide range of other law topics, some of which are listed below:
The concept of law is deeply rooted in culture. There are only a few remaining cultures that have not developed a belief in a codified system of justice, but even those that do have a differing conception of law from the Western notion. For example, the Inuit people use a system of law that is not based on the idea of equality between rich and poor. Similarly, the aboriginal peoples of Australia have a perception of law that is not based on modern scientific principles.