THE CONFLICT PERSPECTIVE

The conflict perspective cites value dissensus, unequal access to economic goods, and the resulting structural cleavages of a society as the basic determinant of laws. Specifically, the origin of law reflects the needs of society’s elite class (see Chapter 2). These elites, it is suggested, use social-control mechanisms such as laws to perpetuate their own advantageous positions in society. In the event of conflict over the prescription of a norm, conflict theorists would argue that the interest group(s) more closely tied to the interests of the elite group would probably win the conflict. For example, William J. Chambliss (1964), as shown in Chapter 1, claims that the groups in England having the most power to create the vagrancy laws centuries ago were those representing the dominant economic interests at the time. A more recent example would be how corporate interests helped influence legal responses to the turbulence of financial markets in 2009 (Halliday and Carruthers, 2009).

 
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