The Social and Legal Status of Women: A Global Perspective

The Social and Legal Status of Women: A Global Perspective

The Social and Legal Status of Women: A Global Perspective

The Social and Legal Status of Women: A Global Perspective

Synopsis

This book delves into the legal traditions that relegated women to an inferior social and legal status worldwide. Hazou probes the nature of law, changes in legislation, and the trend of modern law toward a social engineering that effects gender equality. Hazou analyzes changes in major areas of women's lives, such as family, employment, and the acquisition of social power. She presents a global perspective of women's status and discusses international law aimed at eliminating the exploitation and abuse of women. The book highlights five countries, exploring the cultural basis for and social attitudes toward the position of women in each country.

Excerpt

This book is essentially about change. While change is an inescapable fact of modern life, social change has a particular significance. Steven Vago explains social change in terms of "a restructuring of the basic ways in which people in a society relate to each other with regard to government, economics, education, religion, family life, recreation, language, and other activities" (1981:239). the interconnection and interdependence of law with other social institutions cannot be ignored, and while the answer to the "chicken or the egg" question concerning the relationship between law and social change may not always be obvious, we must recognize the interplay. Past experience shows us that laws merely reflect prevailing social norms and institutionalized customs. This contributes to their effectiveness. At the same time, however, social engineering to remedy inequities is a basic trait of modern law. "The law--through legislative and administrative responses to new social conditions and ideas, as well as through judicial reinterpretations of constitutions, statutes, or precedents--increasingly not only articulates but sets the course for major social changes" (Friedmann 1972:513).

This is true not only in the United States but also in other countries. At times law successfully directs immediate fundamental change, as when the Soviets and the Chinese both used legislation to guide social change and restructure society following their revolutions. At other times, law enforcement is hampered by an encrusted culture that accepts gender inequality as normal.

Modern law in the United States is both the cause and the effect of social change in the lives of women, although the relationship is extremely complex and controversial. However, the relationship need not be thoroughly understood. in general, in Western societies the legal changes that affect women have resulted from altered social conditions, a gradual shift in attitudes and values, and a heightened consciousness in a highly urbanized and indus-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.