Society is a ‘social relationship’. Social change obviously means a change in the system where a social relationship is understood in terms of interactions, processes and social organizations. Thus, the term, ‘social change’ is used to indicate desirable variations in social institution, social processes and social organization. It includes alterations in the structure and functions of the society. Closer analysis of the role of law vis-à-vis social change leads us to distinguish between the direct and the indirect aspects of the role of law.
Because it acts as a guideline as to what is accepted in society, the law is important. Without it there would be conflicts between social groups and communities. It is pivotal that we follow them. The law allows for easy adoption to changes that occur in the society.
The law is important for a society for it serves as a norm of conduct for citizens. It was also made to provide for proper guidelines and order upon the behaviour for all citizens and to sustain the equity on the three branches of the government. It keeps the society running. Without law there would be chaos and it would be survival of the fittest and everyman for himself. Not an ideal lifestyle for most part.
1. Law plays an important indirect role in regard to social change by shaping a direct impact on society. : A law setting up a compulsory educational system.
2. On the other hand, law interacts in many cases indirectly with basic social institutions in a manner constituting a direct relationship between law and social change. A law designed to prohibit polygamy.
Law plays an agent of modernization and social change. It is also an indicator of the nature of societal complexity and its attendant problems of integration. Further, the reinforcement of our belief in the age-old panchayat system, the abolition of the abhorable practices of untouchability, child marriage, sati, dowry etc are typical illustrations of social change being brought about in the country trough laws.
Law certainly has acted as a catalyst in the process of social transformation of people wherein the dilution of caste inequalities, protective measures for the vulnerable and weak sections, providing for the dignified existence of those living under unwholesome conditions etc. are the illustrious examples in this regard. Social change involves an alteration of society; its economic structure, beliefs and values, and its economic, social and political dimensions also undergo modification. Social change does not affect all aspects of society in the same manner.
Law is an effective medium or agency, instrumental in bringing about social change in the country or in any region in particular. We rejuvenate our belief that law has been pivotal in introducing changes in the societal structure and relationships and continues to be so.