THE CONSENSUS PERSPECTIVE

The consensus perspective considers law as a neutral framework for maintaining societal integration. In this view, society is composed of diverse groups whose interests often conflict with one another but are in basic harmony. Interest groups are essential for the well-being of society, and that reconciliation among the conflicting interests of these diverse groups is also essential to secure and maintain social order. As Roscoe Pound (1943:39) noted, law is thus

an attempt to satisfy, to reconcile, to harmonize, to adjust these overlapping and often conflicting claims and demands, either through securing them directly and immediately, or through securing certain individual interests, or through delimitations or compromises of individual interests, so as to give effect to the greatest total of interests or to the interests that weigh most in our civilization, with the least sacrifice of the scheme of the interests as a whole.

In Pound’s view, law in a heterogeneous and pluralistic society, such as the United States, is thus best understood as an effort at social compromise with an emphasis on social order and harmony. Pound argues that the historical development of law demonstrates a growing recognition and satisfaction of human wants, claims, and desires through law. Over time, law has concerned itself with an ever-wider spectrum of human interests and has come to provide for the common good and the satisfaction of social wants (Pound, 1959). Pound argued that the purpose of law is to maintain and to ensure the values and needs essential to social order. This happens not by law’s imposing one group’s will on others, but by law’s reconciling and mediating the diverse and conflicting interests of individuals and groups within society In brief, the purpose of law is to control interests and to maintain harmony and social integration.

In general, proponents of the consensus perspective maintain that law exists to maintain order and stability Law is a body of rules enacted by representatives of the people in the interests of the people. Law is essentially a neutral agent that dispenses rewards and punishments without bias in favor of or against any social group or interest group. (Chambliss, 1976).

 
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