Law as an Instrument of Social Change
The debate as to whether law plays any role in changing the society is rather controversial (Vago 2009, p. 332). But, this study wishes to state that law in itself should transform the society, period. It is believed that “jurists in the former Soviet Union saw the law as an instrument for social engineering” (Gureyev & Sedugin, 1977 cited in. Vago 2009, p. 333). The transition from capitalism to socialism led the Soviet State utilize legislation in guiding the society, establishing and creating social economic reforms and getting rid of possible exploitation.
Moreover, such legislation regulated measures of labor and the measure of consumption of the products of social labor. On the same note, the Soviet State used legislation to enhance democracy, maintain law and order, enhance public safety and edify socialism (Gureyev & Sedugin, 1977 cited in. Vago 2009, p. 333). In Latin it is said that hominum causa omne jus constitutum which means that all right (law) was made for man. Man is the object of law; or better still, law is made for man and not man for the law.
This study recalls this assertion to help the reader realize that law in itself does not transitively occasion social change. It is not like how a person shifts an item from one position to the next such that one can talk of the subject of action and object of action involved. Always, law as it is derives from man’s rationality; it is simply an extension of man’s thoughts. Therefore, it is not the law that desires social change but it is man himself, see the point?
Law, therefore, becomes a means through which the states (composed of men) project their desire for social change. It is important to note that men resort to use of laws since they all accept a universal legal principle which governs all other laws they might enact. Therefore, law as a tool for social change should be examined with a third eye due to its philosophical connotations. However, the fact that law is for man does not make it immune to man’s misappropriation. This means that law cannot prevent itself from being broken.
For instance, the law that abortion is illegal does not prevent people from doing abortion. This limitation hinders the effectiveness of law as a tool for social change. It is also important to note that social change does not mean change in population, climatic change, and technology and so on and so forth, but rather it is change in the human conduct. So, social change revolves around political systems, legal systems, education, health, crime and inter-subjectivity just to mention a few.
For, instance, whenever a state proposes to have a democratic society where its citizens will have equal rights, such a policy is executed legally through the bill of rights. Now, the shift from a centralized government to one that is decentralized is not only a political move but also a legal move. The shift from capitalism to socialism is also a legal move. As mentioned earlier, individual members of the state see the need to have a society that has equal distribution of resources. Therefore, they entrench laws that would lead them to this end.
Somewhat, the laws become an outward sign of their agreement to promote a just society. This study wishes to state that ubi jus ibi remedium which means that where there is a right there will one find a remedy. It may also mean that where a right is violated, a remedy must be sought. Social change is nothing else but promotion of human rights from one epoch to the next. The channel through which such rights can be achieved is through the laws in place. In common parlance, people fight for social change through constitutional process and through voting competent legislators into power.