Acceptable Deviance and Property Rights

45 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2010 Last revised: 8 Feb 2011

Mark A. Edwards

William Mitchell College of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: property, possession, norms, deviance, society, copyright, public space, foreclosure, eviction, fisheries

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Mark A., Acceptable Deviance and Property Rights (November 21, 2010). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, p. 459, 2010; William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1571761

Mark A. Edwards (Contact Author)

William Mitchell College of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55115
United States
651.290.6441 (Phone)

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