chapter  4
27 Pages

Lawmaking

BySteven Vago, Adie Nelson, Veronica Nelson, Steven E. Barkan

This chapter focuses on the more important sociological theories of lawmaking; the ways in which legislatures, administrative agencies, and courts make laws; the roles of vested interests, public opinion, and social science in the decision-making process; and the sources of impetus for laws. It compares four perspectives on lawmaking: the rationalistic model, the functional view, conflict theory, and the "moral entrepreneur" thesis. The chapter describes how lawmaking occurs in the context of administrative rulemaking and adjudication. Legislators have much more freedom to make significant changes and innovations in the law than do the courts. Legislators are also more responsive to public and private pressures than judges. Protest activity involves demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, boycotts, and, more recently, various forms of electronic civil disobedience or "hacktivism" that dramatically emphasize a group's grievances or objectives. One major function of protest may be to secure changes in the law as a means of inducing change in social conditions.