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LWSO201 - What is Law_1.doc

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University of Calgary
Law and Society
LWSO 201
Marywyatt Sindlinger

What is Law? 1) Law Defined a) Starting point: A social mechanism for the declaration, alteration, administration and enforcement of the rules by which we live • Not all rules are laws • A tool society uses to establish order of power and relationships of power • Important questions to ask: what is a society? Are there subgroups? For who’s benefit? Why do we adhere to the law? What gives law its legitimacy? Where does authority come from? • Rules are central to the concept of law • The law sets out permissions and prohibitions • Anything that has a legal persona adheres to law (declarations – we make the rules, alterations – we alter the rules ex drinking and driving, enforcement – how do we punish when a law has been broken) • Rules restrict personal freedom b) Max Weber (1864 – 1920) WWI i) External pressure to comply • Wanted to know why we follow the law • Came up with “law always involves an external guarantee that if you violate it, you will be punished” ii) Always involves coercion or force iii) Administered by a staff c) What law is not: customs and conventions (ex. Do not answer the phone at the dinner table) 2) Law’s Functions a) Social control and social change • Every area of our life • Responds to changes in society and instigates changes in society b)
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