Legal And Social Change

Social movements are instrumental in shaping the laws of society. For instance, Civil rights can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movements that earned Black Americans equal rights. The literature available on the impacts of social movements on legal systems of society suggests that the relationship may be bidirectional. Edelman et al.’s (2016) paper – Legal Discrimination: Empirical Sociolegal and Critical Race Perspectives on Antidiscrimination Law, is a valuable resource to probe this discussion.

In their paper, Edelman et al.’s (2016) research asks what could be the mismatch between what is known about discrimination and the assumptions underlying equal employment opportunity (EEO) law. In this case, workplace discrimination represents all the persistent unsolved issues in the sociolegal domain, despite evident struggles by both the legal and social forces. The authors note that the law (equal employment opportunity) has failed to protect employees from discrimination in workplaces, and the effects to society, in general, have condonation of the discrimination. This is related to the first paragraph of the course outline in that first, the role of law in ensuring social justice is critiqued. According to Edelman et al.’s (2016) findings, the law does not matter absolute measures. For instance, the assumptions underlying the nature of workplace discrimination have left significant gaps in ending workplace discrimination. In that perspective, court decisions only make a difference at the intersection of the law with social issues, like racism. Besides, Edelman et al. (2016) support that legal change led to social change, citing that lack of legal effectiveness to end workplace discrimination through the underlying assumptions has led the society to condone workplace discrimination, among other social injustices.


The main argument in the article is that there are obstacles that challenge legal effectiveness in overcoming social injustices, which are hidden within social structures. One of the obstacles is assumptions of jurisprudence, in this case, ant discriminatory, which has a significant mismatch with the real situation at various levels of the society. According to Edelman et al. (2016), there are several assumptions in the workplace discrimination context, including discriminatory and jurisprudence assuming most discrimination arises where employers are biased and that employees can use legal systems to overcome social injustices. The authors have spent a significant time proving that this assumption has led to the normalcy of discrimination in society. They have insisted that an understanding of the nature of social injustices (workplace discrimination) is ideal in intersecting the legal system with society’s needs. They also conclude that workplace discrimination is highly socially stratified and that the legal systems can not be effective as long as discrimination extrapolates outside the reach of the law.

free essay typer



Edelman et al. (2016) have some valid points, but others need further questioning. First, I agree with the authors that the legal system changes society. When the legal arms stretch to control some social behaviors, a society may lose some of its characteristics. This is close to findings in a 2017 study which found that law can channel behaviors or hold back social change by tampering with race, sex, and social class patterns (Friedman & Hayden, 2017). Also, the authors have correctly described the mismatch between the law and social issues in their contexts. However, the paper highlights the legal system as the solution to the mismatch between jurisprudence and the actual needs of social injustice. I support that those legal systems are born from society and that the needs within the society design legal frameworks. Precisely, society has designed the legal system in that some social injustices are outside the reach of the law. 


Edelman, L., Smyth, A., & Rahim, A. (2016). Legal Discrimination: Empirical Sociolegal and Critical Race Perspectives on Antidiscrimination Law. Annual Review Of Law And Social Science12(1), 395-415.

Friedman, L., & Hayden, G. (2017). Law and Social Change. Oxford Scholarship Online. Retrieved 28 September 2021, from