Acceptable Deviance and Property Rights
Mark A. Edwards
William Mitchell College of Law
November 21, 2010
Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, p. 459, 2010
William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-08
Compliance with - or deviance from - law is often dependent upon the law’s convergence with - or divergence from - normative sensibilities. Where the legality and social acceptability of behavior diverge, some deviance is socially acceptable. Property rights evolve in response to changes in normative sensibilities. Constructing a model of acceptable deviance and applying it to property rights, we can predict and actually observe the evolution of property rights in response to changes in normative sensibilities in areas as diverse as file-sharing, foreclosures, the use of public space, and fishing rights. We can also predict and observe stresses in legal institutions created by divergences in the legality and social acceptability of behavior with regard to property rights. Law functions as an anchor on behavior, providing stability, but also space for deviance which permits the evolution of property rights.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: property, possession, norms, deviance, society, copyright, public space, foreclosure, eviction, fisheries
Date posted: March 21, 2010 ; Last revised: February 8, 2011
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