Rules Versus Relationships: Ethnography of Legal Discourse

John M. Conley and William M. O'Barr

In Rules versus Relationships, John M. Conley and William M. O'Barr examine the experiences of litigants seeking redress of everyday difficulties through the small claims courts of the American legal system. The authors find two major and contrasting ways in which litigants formulate and express their problems in terms of specific rule violations and seek concrete legal remedies that would mend soured relationships and respond to their personal and social needs.