Law and social order constitute important elements of social change and theories of criminology (Schmalleger, 2012). Understanding the interplay between them, law and social order, gives us important insights into how and why governments either work or fail. Three different perspectives outline the interplay between the two and help us understand what is happening behind the scenes in various forms of government. These three perspectives are the consensus, pluralist, and the conflict perspectives.
The consensus perspective has a very naïve view of social organization. Within this view members of society generally share the same core values (Schmalleger, 2012). Laws, according to the consensus perspective, result from a “consensus” of the people and it serves each individual equally (Schmalleger, 2012). Those who violate the law are seen as being mentally unstable, or socialized ineffectively (Schmalleger, 2012).
The champion of the consensus perspective is Roscoe Pound who was the dean of Harvard Law School. He is seen by some as one of the greatest scholar of law (Schmalleger, 2012). Interesting to note about Pound is that some of his ideas roughly reflect those of Thomas Hobbes. For example; Pound believed that for a civilized society to exist, men and women must believe that others would not commit violent acts on them, and would deal with them honestly. Furthermore, Pound wrote that members of a civilized society must be able to trust that those who maintain things will do their job and, well, maintain things (Schmalleger, 2012). This is similar to Hobbes’ idea that men form social contracts with each other and with a central authority figure in order to escape fears of death and wrongdoing and allow them to pursue culture and industry (Baird, 2011).
Contrasting with the consensus view of social organization is the pluralist view that society is filled with different viewpoints about the law. In our own society this is apparent concerning abortion, the affordable care act, marijuana legalization, and gay and lesbian marriage (Schmalleger, 2012). The pluralist view understands that there are a diverse group of individuals within complex societies. Each of these groups have different values and opinions but most of the groups agree to adhere the law concerning dispute settlement (Schmalleger, 2012). The pluralist view, however, assumes a naïve belief that...