Reflection on Donald Black’s “The Mobilization of Law” Article

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8In the article “The Mobilization of Law” by Donald Black, the author outlines his theory on social control and law. Black identifies the mobilization of law as the method in where matters are received by the law. He also identifies law as being socially controlled by the government. Black believes humans have a connection with the law; he states that humans obey the laws and are, therefore, connected to the law. If there wasn’t mobilization of law, the government would not be able to provide the services needed by citizens in order for them to overcome their issues. His concerns suggest that the current state in motion in which law is set critically affects the character of law in its social system. There are other elements of the law to consider in legal mobilization such as lawful alterations and society’s accessibility to law (Black 1973). Black examined the aspects linked to legal mobilization and explained how the mobilization systems alter the aspects of legal life. He supports his examination with the aspects he believes are altered, which includes cases that are dealt with by legal systems and the availability to people. There are two possible ways that a case can enter a legal system.

The first entry is known as “reactive mobilization process” and the second is “proactive mobilization process” (Black 1973: 128). The first entry is from a citizen who brings a complaint to the attention of the system, the second entry is a complaint that is established by the state without a citizen’s inclusion. In Black’s article, he examines his theory about the “mobilization of law” in sociology (Black 1973). I believe his work is seen to be problematic in some terms and not in others. I also anticipate this because Black’s work that is not problematic is accurate for the numerous examples and explanations he uses to emphasize his logic. Black believes social control has different values from specific perspectives. His thoughts state that social control is seen sociologically, anthropologically and theoretically (Black 1973). In each standpoint, he highlights a characteristic of social control and neglects an area of social control. For example, he proclaims from a sociological standpoint; social control is known as the relationship between “control and adaptations” (Black 1973: 125). Social control disregards its characteristics and integrity sociologically based off of Black’s observation (Black 1973). From an anthropological standpoint, Black believes social control is focused on the settlement of disagreements in the system and the systems within social control rather than the systems domination at the level of individual motivation (Black 1973).

Anthropologists also are not very interested in their common ideology improving further (Black 1973). From a theoretical point of view, he believes theoretical tools will help understand social control (Black 1973). Systems follow these tools even though they are very difficult and can overlook aspects of the system such as “scale, formalization, and intrusiveness” (Black 1973: 126). I believe that Black’s argument relates to the course lectures because of the similar concepts. In lecture two, we learned about several sociologists who had different theories on sociology (Levinsky 2018). One of the sociologists we had spoken about was Marx. Black’s approach to law connects to Marx’s theory which is based on his concerns about the freedom of people and how their social status would affect their ability to obtain resources (Levinsky 2018). In the article, Black examines how the law is applicable to people of any status (Black 1973). He explains how people have a higher chance of receiving service if they have a higher status, however people with a lower status will not possess the same amenities (Black 1973). Marx’s theory and Black’s approach to the law are greatly related and share many of the same aspects. One of which is the similarity of human social status definitions in society, the social status of a person defines their resource quantity or quality in both cases (Levinsky 2018).

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Although this section of Black’s article relates to Marx’s theory, it is also a factor in the decrease of law being accessible to people (Black 1973: 140). Along with human social status, I believe there are a few other reasons that decrease the accessibility that people have law (Black 1973. In Black’s (1973) article, he explains how the economic status of citizens effects their connection that they have with law. Citizens with a higher economic status are usually provided with better service from public authorities compared to low-income citizens. Another factor that affects the “availability of law” to people is their distance from “legal institutions” (Black 1973: 140). In Black’s (1973) article, he mentioned the decrease of availability to law due to the distance of the complainant.

In China, if the complainant didn’t live near a court it would be likely for their case to not be pursued (Black 1973). I also believe a certain aspect of Black’s theory connects to a sociologist that we discussed in class. Black (1973) wrote about the government and their armed resources legally and organizationally. He explains how the government has resources that allow them to inaugurate a public case (Black 1973). His article states that the government has agencies that carry out investigations daily that involve detection of illegality (Black 1973). Agencies that help carry out investigations in the government include “county, federal, and state police” (Black 1973: 129). There are several agencies that help the government that are not apart of the operational jurisdiction of the police but are still involved in public law and its proactive enforcement (Black 1973). In lecture two, we learned about Emile Durkheim and his theory on functionalism (Levinsky 2018). Durkheim’s theory on functionalism explains how he believes collective conscious, values, and rules are needed for a society to function (Levinsky 2018). I believe Durkheim’s theory is directly connected to Black’s theory because functionalism is a key element in Black’s article (Levinsky 2018). In Black’s theory, he states that the government uses their agencies to carry out investigations regarding the detection of illegality (Black 1973).

Therefore, I believe if the government didn’t have these agencies as their resource, the government would not be able to detect illegality thus affecting the society’s thought on rules. After reading Black’s article it seems as though Black’s methodology was to observe the aspects of the mobilization of law and understand each concept so that he could create his theory on the mobilization of law. I believe this process helped Black build a strong foundation of evidence to support his theory and make his readers believe his theory. In his article, he examines the different aspects of the law that he believes build legal mobilization (Black 1973). He analyzes legal intelligence and the information on law violations that is at the legal system’s disposal (Black 1973).

Although Black’s theory and argument seem believable, I feel that there is a gap in Black’s theory. In his theory, he defines law as government social control and uses the phrase “case” vastly (Black 1973: 126). I argue with his view on law, Black believes the mobilization in law takes place in later stages however, I believe that action and mobilization can take place in previous stages. Black (1973) explains that a contract becomes a case when filed as a suit however, I believe the law can be mobilized when both sides establish a contract dispute through their attorneys. It is also mobilized on the base of the attorney’s judgment on the case in court; at this stage I feel the law has been mobilized. In the end, I believe Black outlines his thoughts on the mobilization of law in a well-suited manner, even though there are some negative and some positive aspects in his article when comparing to course material and examining his perspective.

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