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12 Soc. Probs. 67 (1964-1965)
A Sociological Analysis of the Law of Vagrancy

handle is hein.journals/socprob12 and id is 69 raw text is: Sociological Theory and Social Action

to which discussions can be oriented.
It is also a means of illustrating the
existence of parallels between the as-
pirations of the investigator and those
of the policy maker.
On one hand, the policy-maker is a
risk-taker who must operate on edu-
cated guesses. He seldom has a rational
and comprehensive means for relating
policy to action, or of anticipating the
field of forces which play upon him.
An operationalized theory is a means
for doing this.
On the other hand, theory is a frame-
work which lends meaning to the
research role. Efforts on the part of
the investigator to operationalize the
experiment, to insure that experimen-
tal conditions are met, and to measure
its impact, are more easily entertained
as important functions. Any intrusion
on his part to maintain experimental
conditions or train practitioners for
the roles they play can be placed in
context and judged as relevant or ir-
relevant. Even the needs of the investi-

gator to insure that the experiment
might be replicated at some future date
may not differ greatly from those of
the action person who, for different
reasons, likewise desires a systematic
description of the steps involved.
Such an accommodation of theory,
research and action roles would have
obvious value and operational implica-
tions. It runs counter to the traditional
expectations of pure science and ex-
ceeds the aspirations of applied sci-
ence. It suggests the need to weigh not
only the consequences for both society
and sociology of making such a change
but of failing to make it.
Sociology is still gathering data at
arbitrarily selected points in the total
society and as a result may be painting
only a partial picture of that which ex-
ists. Theoretically conceived research-
action programs are one means of ex-
panding the boundaries of that pic-
ture. There is likely as much that is
generalizable from the social process
in action systems as in any other.

University of Washington

With the outstanding exception of
Jerome Hall's analysis of theft' there
has been a severe shortage of sociolog-
ically relevant analyses of the relation-
ship between particular laws and the
social setting in which these laws
emerge, are interpreted, and take form.
For a more complete listing of most of
the statutes dealt with in this report the
reader is referred to Burn, The History of
the Poor Laws. Citations of English statutes
should be read as follows: 3 Ed. 1. c. 1.
refers to the third act of Edward the first,
chapter one, etc.
1 Hall, J., Theft, Law and Society, Bobbs-
Merrill, 1939. See also, Alfred R. Linde-
smith, Federal Law and Drug Addiction,
Social Problems Vol. 7, No. 1, 1959, p. 48.

The paucity of such studies is some-
what surprising in view of widespread
agreement that such studies are not
only desirable but absolutely essential
to the development of a mature soci-
ology of law.2 A fruitful method of
establishing the direction and pattern
of this mutual influence is to syste-
matically analyze particular legal cate-
gories, to observe the changes which
take place in the categories and to ex-
2 See, for example, Rose, A., Some Sug-
gestions for Research in the Sociology of
Law, Social Problems Vol. 9, No. 3, 1962,
pp. 281-283, and Geis, G., Sociology,
Criminology, and Criminal Law, Social
Problems Vol. 7, No. 1, 1959, pp. 40-47.

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