Social change is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon brought about by a host of social forces. At times, change is slow and uneven and can be brought about by different factors to differing degrees. Change in society may be initiated by a number of means. Of these, the most drastic is revolution, aimed at fundamental changes in the power relation of classes within society. Others include rebellion, riot, coup d’etat, various forms of violent protest movements, sit-ins, boycotts, strikes, demonstrations, social movements, education, mass media, technological innovations, ideology, and various forms of planned but nonlegal social-change efforts dealing with various behaviors and practices at different levels in society.

Compared with this list of change-inducing forces, the law has certain advantages.

Change efforts through law tend to be more focused and specific. Change through law is a deliberate, rational, and conscious effort to alter a specific behavior or practice. The intentions of legal norms are clearly stated, with a concomitant outline of the means of instrumentation and enforcement and sanction provisions. Essentially, change through law aims at improving behaviors and practices in precisely defined social situations, as identified by the proponents of a particular change. The advantages of law as an instrument of social change reflect the fact that law in society is seen as legitimate, more or less rational, authoritative, institutionalized, generally not disruptive, and backed by mechanisms of enforcement and sanctions.

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