DSST Anthropology as a Discipline

A law defines relationships among members of society

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A law defines relationships among members of society and gives authority to use coercion to enforcement of sanctions. It redefines social relations and ensures social flexibility. Given their functions, laws must adapt to changes in society as well as maintain the stable norms of society. A crime occurs when individuals, aware (or unaware) of the norms of society and the sanctions associated with the violations of those norms, are nonetheless willing to gamble that they can "get away with" violating the norms. In Western society: distinctions are made between 1) violations against the state (a criminal offense) and 2) violations against the individual (a civil offense). In most Non-Western societies: crimes are almost always seen as crimes against the individual, since there is no state against which to commit the crime.
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While resolving differences, negotiation occurs when the parties themselves actively resolve the difference; this can serve as a prior condition to adjudication or mediation. On the other hand, mediation occurs when a third party is called in to resolve the difference. It is typical of bands and tribes; the third party has no coercive power, but his/her decision is effected by the power of his/her prestige. All political organizations try to maintain their own autonomy and security, both internally and externally. When it is external, it often takes the form of war . Even between bands, lineages, clans, or the largest political unit of the state; however, it is not a universal phenomenon. Likely, it has developed only over the last 10,000 years with the increased productivity of food, with surplus, and with the development of states. States are the political system most likely to engage in war . The worldviews of warlike people and non-warlike people is a significant factor in understanding the structure of their societies and the character of their social institutions. Typically, the non-warlike people are the food foragers , who live more in sync with their environment, see themselves as part of the natural world and themselves as a harmonious part of it. In general, the warlike peoples will see themselves as manipulating their environment, as controlling it, dominating it. The larger the society, the more formal its forms of sanctions tend to become. A sanction is a penalty for violating a moral principle or law. The more coercion the sanctions require, the greater likelihood for resentment and resistance among the people. Coercive governments of fascism, tyranny, dictatorships, etc. tend to be relatively short -lived. In fact, the coercive arms of a government, such as armies and the military, may themselves prove to be a dangerous political force, which is not overlooked by many in power. Legitimacy is a primary form of support for the existing political leadership. Its basis for support lies less in coercion and more in the internalized value systems of the people.
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