Law is a system of rules and guidelines imposed by a sovereign or supreme authority to govern behavior, maintain order, and ensure justice. Historically, laws were based on customs and traditions; today they may be enacted by legislative bodies and enforced through a legal system. The study of law involves the investigation and analysis of such a system, including its principles, procedures, and organisation.
The concept of law has been studied by scholars from a wide range of disciplines. For example, Max Weber developed the discipline of sociology of law, which analyzes the social functions and effects of laws on society. Moreover, there is an academic field of legal philosophy that studies the philosophical and historical foundations of law.
In addition to defining the basic meaning of the word, law is also used as an adjective, such as in the phrase “law-abiding citizen.” However, law can also be applied to individual acts and events. The most common use of law is in reference to the legal system, which establishes and enforces standards and policies and ensures that individuals comply with them.
Law is also important to society because it controls human behavior and assists in the cooperation of members of a community. Its nature is coercive, which is demonstrated by its role as a means of satisfying social wants. Hans Kelsen proposed the ‘pure theory of law’, which asserts that it does not describe what must occur but defines rules that people must follow. A law is public when it has been enacted by Congress and signed into effect by the president, and can be cited with its congressional number, which will look something like P.L. 107-101, for example.