Sociology 2260A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Eurocentrism, Legal Culture

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WEEK 4 Wednesday, January 30, 13
SOC 2260
Donald Black’s ‘The behaviour of Law’ (2)
Culture and Law
Culture is the symbolic aspect of social life… Values, ideology, morality, and law have a symbolic
aspect of this kind.
Ex: “Canadians are different from Americans…”
How are we different?
= Social & welfare
The Behaviour of Culture
“Culture has an existence of its own, apart from the way people experience it. It appears in
every social setting, and it varies in quantity and style from one place to the next”
In traditional societies, many laws are morally based and tied to the culture and
religion (different value systems people have)
… It is possible to predict and explain the behaviour of culture of every kind”
People act relative, and so they make laws relative to the cultural meanings given to
-Ex. US. “Right to bare arms” a culture of guns and a culture of violence using
- Why does Canada not have that violence? Not part of our laws; not part of
our laws
Law varies directly with Culture
Where culture is sparse so is law; where it is rich, law flourishes. The more culture, the more
The Quantity of Culture/Law
Across societies the least culture is found among tribal people
…On the other hand if a society is literate, if it many subcultures, beliefs, monuments, or large
buildings… technology… science… it has law
What Black sees as what culture is (Eurocentric view of what culture is)
Law varies directly with literacy and education. Literate and educated people are more likely to
bring lawsuits against others… are more likely to win more
The more literacy and education a society has…. The more law it has
The culture of Law
As an agent of social control, law varies directly with its own culture
- It is easier to make laws in a homogeneous society (where people are similar)
WEEK 4 Wednesday, January 30, 13
“Where legal culture is richer, legal control is greater, litigation is more likely, and damages are
heavier, sentences longer”
Where legal culture is richer- Ex: in the US
Deviant Behaviour is also evaluated in terms of social distance. Therefore, it has a cultural
direction as well. An offence by someone with less culture than his victim is more serious than
an attempt in the opposite direction
Cultural Location
Law varies directly with conventionality or cultural location. People with higher statuses are
more likely to have more culture, and less likely to identify with subcultures
Law applies differently; weighs more heavily to those who are not of the conformist “norm”
Cultural Direction
Any person who is unconventional in his dress, speech, manner, ideas or anything else, is more
vulnerable to la of any kind
if you are unconventional, you are criminal
Sociological Theories
… Hold that crime is on the interconnections between conformity and deviance in different
social contexts. Therefore, Blacks concept of cultural distance can also be used to measure both
deviance and conformity