JURI 1106A Law as a Social Science
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Wow! I didn't think that someone could write so much about law, given that we are in a law class, btw comments were due today, so I gave you the most useful feedback I could.
Hey, I just came from post #3 and found out that infact, this blog also had to do with law! How amazing!
Wow, good job, this law assignment really contained stuff about the law.
Your post brought similar points to mine when considering that people obey the law because of their morals and their fear of punishment. Most of us like to think we obey the law as much as we can because it is our political obligation. The idea of disobeying the law has been encompassed under civil disobedience. There are a number of different approaches we have seen to how people go about showing that they do not agree with certain laws. One of which is protest. We go about an action like protest when we want to turn attention to another action. However, there are several laws that have been enacted to ensure that disobedience is as controlled as possible. Going back to the example of protest, there are forms of protest that are made legal under the Charter. Some of which highlight we can only assemble in a way that is non-violent, and the police can detain or limit the actions if it is justified democratically. As mentioned in your post, we all have different views of laws and that’s why words and interpretations are important factors. Even when we don’t agree we are expected to serve society with our conscience and communicate effectively.
Your post gave me a new way of thought of how we should use society to come up with prevention strategies when it comes to broken laws. Thinking proactively instead of reactively is a very efficient approach. You have also brought in ideas of how a sociological perspective has brought us several explanations to the functions of the world we know today. It immediately made me think of The Living Tree and the interpretation it gives of the Constitution as a living thing that adjusts with social values. However I would just like to add the important fact that society not only affects the law but the law in turn affects society. For example, people use the Charter to challenge violations of rights often in the courtroom. We see the relationship between society and law like in the case of Keegstra. He argued that his freedom of expression was violated which came to agreeance with the Charter and therefore a societal value. However he did not win his case because of another law, specifically 319 (2), showed that is actions were unreasonable. It is important to not forget that law and society have significant influences on each other it is not just a unidirectional relationship.
Drawing on the first half of your post, I admire your arguments and ideas of why people follow the law and I agree that punishment is an extremely large part in the deterrence of crime, however, I don’t believe it is the sole factor. Of course knowing that you will get punished for doing something if you get caught will make you think twice about it before acting, however, there’s rarely only one cause for something. What’s the explanation for someone abiding by the law when they don’t yet know the punishment? Children at a young age have not yet learned what punishments will be attributed to what actions or even that there will be any punishments at all, yet they aren’t all going around breaking laws. This same effect can be seen in adults, though it is less common that an adult will still not be aware of punishment through the law. Perhaps they are traveling abroad where the law is approached differently, this change of law means that they don’t necessarily know what actions might get punished, but they will still not go around breaking what they think will be the laws.
This type of behaviour among people demonstrates that the knowledge of a punishment is not the only thing influencing people to follow the law, it is also personal reflection and morality. It may be a small part of why people abide by the law, so small that often people will disregard it or not even think of it in the first place. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is still to be considered as part of the reason of why societies and individuals follow the law.
You raise the point that in Canada we don’t face much chaos because of a more structured governmental system and thus this shows that we don’t have many people breaking laws. Presumably what you mean by chaos is things like mass shootings every second day and terrorist attacks or revolutionary wars spread across the country, in which case I agree completely. This doesn’t mean however that there aren’t rampant crimes occurring in Canada and even within the government itself. Typically the crimes seen on the news are ones that cause significant damage to a person, place or group and will have repercussions large enough to have possible international effects. We don’t often hear about the many crimes going on in our own country because they’re what are referred to as “white-collar crimes”, commit by upper class people, typically businessmen or politicians. We don’t hear about these crimes much, not only because people aren’t always directly or physically harmed by them, but also because these people are in positions of power, like in the government, and have the mean to cover up the crimes. People are also more hesitant to accuse them of something of pursue them as criminals, due to possible intimidation because of their power. We see more and more of these crimes coming to light, which shows that not all crime causes chaos or even enough tremor to make it onto the news.
All in all, what I’m trying to say is even if people don’t follow the law, it doesn’t mean that there will be chaos, and even if nobody really hears about it, it doesn’t mean people aren’t breaking the law. Thus, there must be another reason why people follow the law, other than simply to avoid chaos.
Thanks Marissa for this article, there are many reasons why people obey the law which is carefully explained by you, In addition the part where you discuss the acceptability of the law, it is true that people are only bound to obey the law if it reflects common values and beliefs held by society and also part of what makes up a law is acceptability, if the law is not accepted by people in the society, it cannot be obeyed. And for a law to be rejected there will be acts of protests, involving petitions and creating awareness for representatives, also the law does adjust to reflect the changing nature of society, for example, the rights of homosexuals to get married was not popular until about a couple of years ago this shows a way that the law adjusts based on changes and development of societal values this changes are sometimes contested by other individuals but these only helps to show the power that law has over individuals
This is a very informative article Mallory, It is true that the law is a process and that there are some laws you cannot access until certain ages, like getting your drivers license or having access to purchasing alcohol and you incorporated the way that the law evolves every time society develops and this makes us as citizens to conform with these laws and they shape our lives. Also in addition to your comment of the visible aspect of law that there are law enforcement agencies around us, like court and police stations, put there to monitor us and they are also a form of social control because there may not be officers present at all times in a police station but the crime rate where these stations are located will be very low because of the presence of building, this way the law acts as a form of indirect social control.
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