The problem with which we are going to deal is one of comparative law, a discipline probably even more illusory than legal science itself. A body of laws represents in itself neither a social reality nor a social ideal. One of the difficulties that every historian faces in trying to reconstruct a period of the past with the help of legal monuments is due to the great variety of relations existing between legal rules and social reality. So, e.g., legal monuments generally contain in an inextricable confusion at least two contradictory types of rules: rules which are a simple restatement of an existing custom, and rules which are enacted with the very purpose of reversing existing customs and which, in terms of social reality, should be read as we read the negative of a snapshot: white for black and black for white.
Alexander H. Pekelis,
LEGAL TECHNIQUES AND POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES: A COMPARATIVE STUDY,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol41/iss4/6