Law and Social Action

20 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021

Date Written: March 20, 2021


Why was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 able to accomplish what The 15th Amendment and subsequent Enforcement Acts in the 19th century were not? This paper argues that jurisprudence and the interpretation of legal texts cannot answer this question. Instead a social action approach is formulated, in which different actors within a given group are capable of taking specific actions in order to influence the collective perceptions held by members of that group, and thereby alter the group’s character. This approach is then applied to the history of The 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to shed light on the toothlessness of the former and the tremendous impact of the latter.

Keywords: The Voting Rights Act, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, VRA, 15th Amendment, disenfranchisement, law, political science, political theory, legal theory, pragmatics, social ontology

Suggested Citation

Gurri, Adam, Law and Social Action (March 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

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