Crime and Custom in Savage Society represents Bronislaw Malinowski's major discussion of the relationship between law and society. Throughout his career he constructed a coherent science of anthropology, one modeled on the highest standards of practice and theory. Methodology steps forward as a core element of the refashioned anthropology, one that stipulates the manner in which anthropological data should be acquired.
Malinowski's choice of law was not inevitable, but neither was it unmotivated. Anyone interested in understanding the social structure and organization of societies cannot avoid dealing with the concept of "law," even if it is to deny its presence. Law and anthropology have shown a natural affinity for one another, sharing a beneficial history of using the methods and viewpoints of one to inform and advance the other.
The best lesson Malinowski provides us with comes in the last paragraphs of Crime and Custom in Savage Society: "The true problem is not to study how human life submits to rules; the real problem is how the rules become adapted to life." On that question, he has left us richly inspired to continue the quest.
Introduction to the Transaction Edition
PART I.Primitive Law and Order
1The Automatic Submission to Custom and the Real Problem
2Melanesian Economics and the Theory of Primitive Communism
3The Binding Force of Economic Obligations
4Reciprocity and Dual Organization
5Law, Self-interest, and Social Ambition
6The Rules of Law in Religious Acts
7The Law of Marriage
8The Principle of Give-and-take Pervading Tribal Life