188.8.131.52 Inclusivity in the Law
For the law to be acceptable, people must feel that it does not unfairly discriminate against them. As mentioned at the start of this book (2.2), there are many deep divisions in society and the law must avoid alienating large sections of the population. A policy of inclusivity would ensure that everybody feels that the law applies to them, to avoid resentment.
There are two ways of viewing the law, which Hart described in The Concept of Law as the “external” and “internal” views of it, corresponding to whether the person concerned feels alienated from that society or not [pp. 89-91].
● 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 people 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. “Young black boys” who felt that they were discriminated against, for example, 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 saw the police as hostile and they didn’t care about the owners of the property that they damaged. The worldwide protests over George Floyd’s death were also triggered by resentment against racial bias in the police.
This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books. An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/5431.htm.