The Need for Inclusivity in the Law

(This is a current extract from the Patterns of Power Repository.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition02/5431.htm)

There are two ways of viewing the law, which Hart described as the "external" and "internal" views of it,[1] corresponding to whether the person concerned feels alienated from that society or not. 

·      An alienated person taking the “external” view sees that infractions of the rules will result in punishment and, if living in that society, would adjust his or her behaviour in order to avoid punishment; such a person would not feel morally bound by the rules but would probably carry out a risk assessment before breaking them. 

·      In contrast, a person taking the “internal” view would see the rules as a reflection of normal behaviour and would see infractions by other people as a reason to censure them and as justifying punishment; the internal view is likely to be taken by somebody who identifies with the rules that society has created. 

If members of minorities are alienated, feeling that they are disenfranchised or excluded, it is more likely that they will take the external view and would feel free to break the law if they can ‘get away with’ doing so.  Such behaviour was exemplified in the London riots in August 2011, when some of those who rioted expressed antipathy towards the police:

“Interviewees said police treated them in a humiliating and degrading way when they were stopped – particularly in strip-searching and handcuffing them. Several claimed police verbally insulted them.

These complaints came from rioters in every city where the research took place and by interviewees of different racial groups.”

…“Young black boys are always at the brunt of the stop and search tactics. We're always the one that's getting stopped and searched.” [2]

A self-reinforcing mutual antipathy between the police and some of the young men involved had ultimately contributed to a breakdown in law and order.  Inclusiveness (2.5), in every dimension of governance, helps to avoid such problems.

© PatternsofPower.org, 2014                                                 

[1] H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law, pp. 89-91.

[2] On 6 December 2011, The Guardian published an article entitled “Reading the Riots: 'Humiliating' stop and search a key factor in anger towards police”; the “the lack of respect and courtesy” by the police had clearly fuelled resentment.  The article was available in May 2014 at http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/dec/06/stop-and-search.