Food for thought: Law, Ideology, and Capitalism

This week’s class focused on theories of law & society informed by the work of Karl Marx, with an emphasis on the argument that law is an ideological instrument. We explored Marx’s historical materialism and his analysis of the dynamics of capitalist society. We considered contemporary revisions of Marxist theory, as well as some criticisms of Marx’s ideas. As a case study in the role of law as ideology, we reviewed Douglas Hay’s classic essay on ‘Property, Authority and the Criminal Law’.

CRIM 3305_Hay

Food for thought:

Douglas Hay distinguishes three aspects of the law as ideology: majesty, justice and mercy.

Write a post that:

  1. briefly explains what Hay means by this. How does the law (and legal system) represent ideology, according to Hay?
  2. considers the operation of law and legal systems in the present context. Does Hay’s argument still hold true? Does law function to secure consent and the perception of legitimacy despite the manifest inequality of the social order? Provide supporting examples.
  3. concludes with a short commentary on the implications of your response to part 2 – does law necessarily operate as ideology, and if so, what does this mean for law reform projects / movements? [be sure to read Pavlich pp. 96-97 before responding].

Your post should be submitted before 19:00 on October 23.


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