I am both honored and humbled to become the co-author of this eminent law and society text by the late Steven Vago. I have taught law and society regularly since I began my academic career, and Professor Vago’s text was one of the first textbooks I used in my classes. Its longevity attests to its quality and impact, as thousands of undergraduate students, graduate students, and instructors during the past few decades have learned much about law and society by reading the pages Professor Vago wrote.
In preparing the eleventh edition for a new generation of readers, I viewed my task as preserving Professor Vago’s voice while making the text more accessible for today’s students. Accordingly, I removed material that was not central to the overall presentation and added a chapter outline, learning objectives, and boldfaced terms and a list of key terms to every chapter. To aid comprehension, I also adapted the chapter summaries into a series of numbered points. In addition to these changes, I updated content and references to reflect recent developments in the law and society literature and, as well, recent real-life events with legal relevance for the United States and other nations. I also added a brief epilogue chapter that examines law and inequality in the United States as it moves into the third decade of this century.
My sincere thanks go to Nancy Roberts for her confidence that I was the right author to prepare this new edition, and to Samantha Barbaro and Athena Bryan for their help and patience as I did prepare it. I would also like to thank the many instructors who reviewed the tenth edition and provided very helpful comments that surely improved the text. Their names are Rudolph Alexander, Michael Bateman, Paul Dueren, Ellis Godard, Kimberly Hutson, Susan Koski, Mahgoub Mahmoud, Mary McKenzie, Demetrius Semien, Abigaile VanHorn, and DeeAnn Wenk.
As always in my textbooks, my heartfelt thanks go to Barbara Tennent, David Barkan, and Joel Barkan for everything they do, and to my late parents, Morry and Sylvia Barkan, for everything they did to help make me who I am.
I also owe a considerable debt to Steven Vago for writing this text that taught me so much about law and society when I was beginning my academic career. I hope and trust that Professor Vago would have been pleased with this new edition, and I am delighted that his book will now be available to future classes and readers.
Steven E. Barkan
Department of Sociology, University of Maine