Wednesday, December 4, 2013

#338 / Expectations #2

While I don't think that the overriding function of our "laws" should be defined as "social control," and particularly not when social control is defined as "minimizing nonconformity and deviance," I do agree that our society should be stable, and predictable, and "safe." 

The textbook I complained about in yesterday's post seems to imply that an authoritarian police state will be the best way to achieve public safety and stability, with our legal institutions taking upon themselves, as their "overriding" purpose, the enforced conformity of everyone to whatever standards are set out in the law. This is not my idea of how our society should attempt to achieve social stability and public safety.

I see stability and public safety coming mainly from people living up to our social "expectations," and therefore "conforming" not through legal compulsion but from a shared sense of what we all should be doing. Our laws, of course, can be a formal and written down statement of our expectations, but we mostly take our cue about what to do, and about how to act, from how we see others acting. In my view, we mostly do what it seems that we are "expected" to do.

The more our society gears up to "enforce conformity," the more we send the message that we expect people not to conform, and this means that we actually "expect" people not not to do the "right" thing, but to do the "wrong" thing. 

Democracy is better than the authoritarian alternatives because it demands "participation" from everyone as the rules are set. It is easier to understand the expectations we have about our society when we each have helped set those expectations ourselves. 

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