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Changing Patterns of Dispute Settlement in an American City

Prit Kaur

Abstract
The objective of the sociology of law is to investigate the dialectical
interaction between the formal state legal system and the social structure
and culture. One specific area suited for this type of investigation is dispute
settlement as undertaken by individuals in different socio-legal cultural
contexts. Do people, for instance, prefer to settle disputes within or outside
the state legal system, and why? The current study, based on data collected
from 100 research participants, shows that 56% of disputes are settled
through the state legal system, 20% of disputes are settled through socially
recognized non-state methods and 24% of disputes are settled through
‘extra-dispute settlement methods’ recognized neither socially nor by the
state. The investigation further reveals that disputants’ preferences for
resolution method are primarily determined by the nature and meaning of
the disputes as embedded in their socio-cultural situational contexts and
having established connection(s) within the formal legal system.
Keywords: Legal Pluralism, Dispute Settlement, Procedural Justice, Omniculturalism