Law and Society POS 240

How Law Changes the Society

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How Law Changes the Society


In the framework of the emergence of legal institutions, law and society experts have been working for decades to better comprehend the link between legal and social development. In contemporary society, the law is regarded as both an autonomous and a dependent factor (cause and effect) (Nonet & Selznick, 2017). The relationship between the law and other social systems is emphasized in literature. In today’s society, many individuals are participating in new types of group activities and making new connections, an exemplification of social transformation. The term society refers to this type of situation, where factors that relate to social life change and adapt to current cultures, expectations, and a product of these elements. As a result of societal revolution, people’s attitudes toward work, family, education, government, and the search for ultimate meaning are all changing in profound ways. Beyond legal and social change, additional processes of change such as technological advancement, ideological evolution, competitiveness and conflict; political and economic concerns; and structural tensions are just a few of the many other types of change that may occur. All of these factors relate to the law, how it changes, and how it affects society. Ultimately, the law is an instrument of social change that binds people to a certain way of life governed by rules and expectations, factoring in their cultures and traditions to create a product that is unique to every society.

Defining the Law in the Context of a Society

Law may be defined as a system of regulations that are used to provide some form of direction and governance to a group of people. It is also defined by (Kaushal, 2020) as a system of control to the activities of a group of people. As long as there is a balance between society and the people that live there, control is required in order for them to coexist in an interdependent manner, which will assist in the implementation of social transformation. A society is a diversified group made up of individuals from various social classes, castes, religions, races, colors, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. When it comes to achieving homogeneity, it is vital that no distinction be made between these persons, regardless of their identities (Luhmann & Kastner, 2004). This can only be accomplished by the application of law. A constructive social transformation is always welcomed by every community and its inhabitants, and this is especially true for developing countries. A crucial role for the law in bringing about social transformation cannot be overstated. In a lawless society, there is a lack of harmony and tranquility between individuals and society as a whole.

The law is a creator of balance wherever there is a society. Because of various factors such as money, power, and prestige, one group of people may always be able to exert authority and control over other groups of people who are comparably weak in a society made up of a diverse range of people. In a society made up of diverse individuals, this is known as authoritarianism. This problem is not unusual, since it has occurred at some point in the history of every civilization on the planet. Not only that, but society is confronted with a slew of other difficulties as well (Kaushal, 2020). Among the many problems that people face include crime, poverty, corruption, drug abuse, as well as violent criminal activities including rape, human trafficking, murder, child pornography, and other forms of capital crimes (Barrett et al., 2020). As a catalyst in society, law assists in the elimination of all kinds of obstacles through the creation of laws and statutes that have an influence on today’s and tomorrow’s societies by aiding in the removal of all types of barriers. Despite the fact that society has changed dramatically in recent years, it is vital to recognize that societal challenges are not going away; in fact, they are becoming more severe.

The Law as a Means for Social Control

The fundamental purpose of the law is to maintain communal order and stability, with a secondary goal of defending individual rights as a byproduct of this. It is also a means of making a positive effect on society by adapting to changing requirements. Therefore, the law is a highly efficient social control tool as a result. In order to ensure the wellbeing of all members of society, the society takes precedence above the law. The rule of law, which is enshrined in a constitution, is the foundation of democratic government (Nonet & Selznick, 2017). Because it instills fear in the hearts and minds of the people, the law is an excellent tool for maintaining social control. The law governs how individuals conduct themselves in society. People are made aware of their obligations and responsibilities by the use of force by the law. The law protects a society’s fundamental ideas and ideals. Legal safeguards are in place to protect individuals from being taken advantage of. Governments and nations pass criminal and civil legislation in order to attain this purpose.

In order to comprehend societal development via the lens of law and the legal system, it is vital to comprehend the workings of the legal system in the context of the political, social, and economic components of India’s constitution. Through the prism of legislation, we can see how people’s values, what they hold dear, and how they establish their own sense of security are all demonstrated. When it comes to drafting legislation, the government must act in conformity with public opinion (Coglianese, 2001). The public’s perception reflects the wishes of the general population. The laws are created by the people. For example, the amendment of laws in the United States and other Industrialized countries to allow same sex marriage is an example of how the will of the people constitutes the law, thereby impacting social control and the overall culture to bring about social change.

The Law as a Social Change Instrument

The law reflects the desires and wants of a certain society. Every society’s standards may be used to determine if it is developed or unruly, by studying its legal patterns and other related issues. The law, which is a product of society, is the catalyst for social transformation. However, there are two ways to this problem that must be properly understood: Preliminary consideration should be given to the fact that the “law changes a society,” which means that the law defines how individuals should spend their lives (Vago et al., 2017). By contrast, or looking at the flipside of this issue, “society changes the law” in accordance with its own judgment (Barrett et al., 2020). Therefore, there is a clear link between the law and the society, showing these two as interrelated yet independent aspects where each catalyzes the development of the other. It is absolutely necessary that the law and the society coexist. According to this viewpoint, the law is formed by society as a whole, either via legislative action or by customs, cultures, traditions, expectations, and their use. When legislation has an impact on society, it marks the beginning of the growth and maturity of civilization through the legal system. Modifications to a country’s legal framework due to societal change provide evidence of development and maturity of the society.

The rule of law is the most important formal tool for social control. Despite the fact that early civilizations relied on informal social control, as societies developed in size and complexity, they were compelled to develop rules and regulations that defined acceptable patterns of conduct and specified the consequences for those who broke those rules and regulations. Law is a set of regulations that have been established by legally sanctioned organizations and are being enforced by legally sanctioned governments. Individuals’ rights and duties, as well as the consequences of failing to comply with them, are clearly defined in this document (Coglianese, 2001). The span of modern civilization is enormous. It is comprised of a complex network of groups, organizations, institutions, and entrenched interests that make up their organizational structure. Informal social control methods are no longer sufficient to sustain social order and peace in today’s society.

In today’s culture, relationships are viewed as secondary to other things, an element that must be also reflected in law. Standards must be defined in order to ensure the safety of people and property, as well as the orderly management of interpersonal interactions (Nonet & Selznick, 2017). The law sets the norms and consequences of a social order that are continuous across time. After being founded on traditions and mores, they have been codified via the passage of legislation. Certain behaviors are prohibited by law, even though they might be a key part of the society (Honoré, 2002). For example, the mainstream culture allows people to make remarks on general social living, yet the law prohibits one to, for instance, speak against the sexual orientation of a person. In another example, the use of alcoholic drinks in public places is strictly forbidden, although it is perfectly legal to consume alcohol. When it comes to individual behavior in contemporary civilizations, regulation has a significant impact on how people act and behave.


In this discussion, it is clear that the law is an instrument of social change that binds people to a certain way of life governed by rules and expectations, factoring in their cultures and traditions to create a product that is unique to every society. therefore, it can be summarized to be a product of the society. in another view, the society can also be defined by the laws it has. this concept is not complex but the very simple core that has defined human existence. While today the legal system is presented clearly through legislative processes and other doctrines, the same was present before through laws and customs that defined human existence. Therefore, the law is indeed a part of the society and the reverse is true for the society. Because of this relationship, the law is a catalyst for social change and transformation. As long as there is a balance between society and the people that live there, control is required in order for them to coexist in an interdependent manner, which will assist in the implementation of social transformation. A society is a diversified group made up of individuals from various social classes, castes, religions, races, colors, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. The law provides uniformity of treatment, subjecting every society member to the same rules and regulations.


Nonet, P., & Selznick, P. (2017). Law & society in transition: toward responsive law. Routledge.

Coglianese, C. (2001). Social movements, law, and society: The institutionalization of the environmental movement. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 150(1), 85-118.

Kaushal, S. (2020, June). Punishment for Crimes: An instrument of Social Change. In Proceedings of International Young Scholars Workshop (Vol. 9).

Barrett, J., Gaus, G., Langvatn, S. A., Sadurski, W., & Kumm, M. (2020). Laws, norms, and public justification: the limits of law as an instrument of reform. Public Reason and Courts, 201-28.

Vago, S., Nelson, A., Nelson, V., & Barkan, S. E. (2017). Law and Society: Canadian Edition. Routledge.

Luhmann, N., & Kastner, F. (2004). Law as a social system. Oxford University Press on Demand.

Honoré, T. (2002). The necessary connection between law and morality. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 22(3), 489-495.

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