Uses the case study of the California Industrial Accident Commission to explore issues in sociological jurisprudence. It traces the progression of the Commission from a welfare agency with broad discretion in policymaking and interpretation into a relatively passive arbitrator of industrial accident claim disputes. The author examines the effect of the elaboration of legal rules and doctrines, the significance of the procedural aspects of law, and the interplay of the legal process and institutional change. He then notes the conditions which will either permit or restrain a legal process that will remain highly responsive to social needs.
PHILIPPE NONET is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley and associate of the Center for the Study of Law and Society.