Unjust laws and illegal norms

Emanuela Carbonara, Francesco Parisi, Georg von Wangenheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Due to a variety of circumstances, lawmakers occasionally create laws whose aims are perceived as outright unjust by the majority of the people. In other situations, the law may utilize improper means for the pursuit of a just goal. In all such cases, lawmaking processes generate rules that do not reflect the values of the underlying population. In these cases individuals may face legal commands or prohibitions that conflict with their sense of justice or fairness. Individuals can oppose unjust laws through protest. Social opposition to unjust laws may trigger social norms that can have countervailing effects on legal intervention. The dynamic effects of these phenomena are the object of this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-299
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Review of Law and Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Civil disobedience
  • Countervailing effect
  • Expressive function
  • Law enforcement
  • Social norms


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