Theory Of The Behavior Of Law Essay

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Theory Of The Behavior Of Law Essay, Research Paper DONALD BLACK S THEORY OF THE BEHAVIOR OF LAW DAPHNE A. GRAHAM Donald Black, author of Behavior of Law, can be described as a conflict theorist. The conflict criminologist would argue that societies are composed of groups with conflicting values and interest. The groups with the most power shape the laws of their society. This creates an inverse relationship between power and official crime rates. People with less power are more likely (and people with more power are less likely) to be officially defined as criminals. While many conflict theorists focus on relationships of society at the individual level, Black focused on relationships of social groups as a whole not at the individual level. According to his theory, social

groups possess five dimensions of social life: stratification, morphology, culture, organization, and social control (Vold, Bernard, and Snipes, 1998). All of which try to explain deviant behavior. To preface his theory, Black describes law as a quantitative variable, meaning there is more law established in some places than others. the quantity of law is known by the number and scope of prohibitions, obligations, and other standards to which people are subject, and by the rate of legislation, litigation , and adjudication (Black, 1976, p. 3). Another fundamental point is law can vary according to its style, which can also be quantitative. Four different styles of social control are penal, compensatory, therapeutic, and conciliatory. Penal law is enforced by a group against an

offender; with compensatory law the victim demands payment; and with therapeutic and conciliatory law the deviant himself seeks services to improve his or her condition. By addressing the quantity and styles of law, Black attempts to explain the variations of each (Vold et al., 1998). Both of these propositions states a relationship between law and another aspect of social life stratification, morphology, culture, organization, or social control (Black, 1976, p. 6). This relationship can be considered an inverse one: when the quantity of law increases the quantity of social control of these other kinds decreases, and vice versa (1976). Social control defines what in a society is considered deviant behavior, and the more social control there is, the more deviant the conduct is.

According to Black, the theory of law predicts the definitions of law, as well as, the crime rate. For example, a juvenile without social control at home is more likely to become criminal since crime is defined by law and law increases as other social control decreases (Black, 1976). Stratification, the first dimension of this theory, is considered to be the vertical aspect of social life (Black, 1976). This means that society is stratified into vertical layers mostly determined by wealth. This wealth often determines legal advantage. Therefore, law varies directly with stratification. The more stratification a society has, the more law it has. Deviant behavior, according to this theory, varies inversely with rank (Black, 1976). The second dimension, morphology, is the horizontal

aspect of social life, the distribution of people in relation to one another, including their division of labor, networks of interaction, intimacy, and integration (Black, 1976). Within each vertical layer, there is a hierarchical structure, which differentiates each person in the layer from the others. Law is greater when a society is more independent, and less when more intimate. Relational distance determines this intimacy. It also predicts and explains the style of law, whether penal and compensatory, or therapeutic and conciliatory. Complete strangers are more likely to see each other as adversaries, whereas intimates are more likely to offer help. Those individuals who are considered marginal, or poorly integrated in their layer, will most likely be singled out and blamed