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SOCIAL CHANGE

Another function of law in modern society is social change, also called social engineering. This function refers to purposive, planned, and directed social change initiated, guided, and supported by the law. As Roscoe Pound (1959:98-99) put it,

For the purpose of understanding the law of today, I am content to think of law as a social institution to satisfy social wants—the claims and demands involved in the existence of civilized society—by giving effect to as much as we need with the least sacrifice, so far as such wants may be satisfied or such claims given effect by an ordering of human conduct through politically organized society. For present purposes I am content to see in legal history the record of a continually wider recognizing and satisfying of human wants or claims or desires through social control; a more embracing and more effective securing of social interests; a continually more complete and effective elimination of waste and precluding of friction in human enjoyment of the goods of existence—in short, a continually more efficacious social engineering.

In considering the function of social change, a major issue concerns the degree to which law can bring about social change. Chapter 7 examines this function further with some important examples from the last several decades.

 
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