5.4.3.1 Inclusivity in the Law

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/5431.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.  For example, “[y]oung black boys”, who felt that they were discriminated against, took part in the London riots in August 2011 – as described by The Guardian: Reading the Riots: ‘Humiliating’ stop and search a key factor in anger towards police.  Those who rioted did not see the law as being for their own benefit and nor did they care about the owners of the property that they damaged.

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