The New Mandala blog recently posted a book review of a very interesting new book, Tort, Custom, and Karma by David Engel and Jaruwan Engel. I haven’t read the book yet, but the basic argument seems to be that in rural Thailand the state legal system plays a minimal role in resolving personal injury disputes. They suspect that globalization and the process of atomization have distanced the state from the individual.
I’ll write more once I read the book (I have it on my bookshelf). For now, my parting question would be whether the book simply explains northern Thailand or develops a theory applicable to many developing country contexts. Indeed, during my recent trip to Burma, many Burmese lawyers claimed that Burma was “unique” because people avoided the legal system. At the very least, Tort, Custom, and Karma shows that the disconnect between citizens and the law exists in a variety of contexts.