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Psychological Jurisprudence
and Radical Social Change

Dennis R. Fox


American Psychologist, 48, 234-241

This attack on organized psychology's generally liberal political agenda for not being radical -one of my favorite themes - focuses on the American Psychological Association's efforts to influence the law. It overlaps my chapter Psychology and Law: Justice Diverted and other articles.

Note: This version may not exactly match the published version!


Organized psychology increasingly seeks to promote human welfare through appellate court briefs, legislative advocacy, and other means consistent with an emerging psychological jurisprudence that directs legal attention to fundamental psychological values such as dignity, privacy, justice, equality, and autonomy. It is suggested that this well-meaning liberal agenda is wedded to a legal status quo that prevents significant social change through coercion, a focus on procedural rather than substantive justice, and the myth of legal legitimacy. Co-optation inevitably prevents psychologists from advocating a radical psychology of the left in keeping with the values identified by the emerging paradigm. Psychologists interested in law should seek to identify aspects of law and society that hinder optimal well-being, arouse dissatisfaction with such conditions, and assist social movements seeking to overcome legal impediments to social change.


Shortly before his murder by a Salvadoran military death squad, social psychologist Ignacio Martin-Baro (1990) recognized the connection between his research and the wider political arena:

An attempt to be scientifically neutral quickly becomes a form of collaboration with established powers, masking the conflicts of interest that come into play in the apparently "unpolitical" religious sphere. . . . Objectivity is not the same as impartiality with regard to the processes that necessarily affect all of us. It is therefore more useful for psychosocial analysis for one to become conscious of one's involvements and interests rather than denying them in an attempt to exist on a fictitious higher plane, "beyond good and evil." (pp. 104-105)

Although psychologists in the United States do not face the same risks as Martin-Baro, we can still benefit from emulating his concern for the political consequences of our professional involvements. Unfortunately, although psychologists individually and organizationally have generally abandoned efforts to remain above the political fray in the name of supposed objectivity, the American Psychological Association's (APA) efforts to influence public policy in keeping with an ethical obligation to promote human welfare are confined to the moderately liberal social and political mainstream. For a variety of practical, professional, and personal reasons, psychologists typically seek to improve people's lives by reforming the status quo rather than by radically altering it (Sarason, 1981; Smith, 1990).

Not all psychologists are comfortable with these traditionally close ties to the liberal mainstream. A surprisingly large literature presents an alternative view: that as psychologists we should break our bonds to the status quo and seek instead wide-ranging social change. Although advocates of such change differ among themselves over goals, methods, and political self-definition, they generally agree that only fundamental structural transformation can effectively counter trends toward hierarchy, isolation, inequality, etc.; reduce racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression; and bring about a humane, egalitarian, just society consistent with psychological and societal well-being.

Some psychologists have advocated comprehensive social change in a decentralist, anarchist, egalitarian, or community-focused direction (Chomsky, 1973; Fox, 1985, in press; Fromm, 1955; Goodman, 1966/1979; Maslow, 1971; Sarason, 1976/1982). Others have noted the importance of social change to increase empowerment (Rappaport, 1981, 1987), cooperation (Kohn, 1986), distributive justice (Deutsch, 1985), and resistance to unjust authority (Kelman & Hamilton, 1989) and to decrease consumerism and materialism (Wachtel, 1983) and "surplus powerlessness" (M. Lerner, 1986). It is often recognized that ending injustice requires "structural rather than individual solutions" (Haney, 1991, p. 190).

Community psychologists in particular have long insisted that prevention of mental disorder must begin with "widespread and expensive social reform" in order to prevent the "emotional distress and mental disturbance in our society [that] is due to dehumanizing social influences" such as oppression, meaningless work, racism, and sexism (Albee, 1982, p. 1044). As Albee pointed out, "the more you are involved in primary prevention, the more you get politically enlightened, and the more you realize that real prevention efforts have to involve social and political changes" (Freiberg, 1991, p. 28). (See also Caplan & Nelson, 1973; Fairweather, 1972; Fox, 1991; Kelman, 1968; Moghaddam, 1990; Moos & Brownstein, 1977; Prilleltensky, 1989, 1990; Smith, 1990.)

The alternative perspective's challenge to psychology's liberal-reformist focus is especially relevant to the subfield of psychology and law. As Tapp (1974) noted, "for some the law is a primary vehicle for effecting change; for others it is a mechanism for deflecting efforts toward change" (p. 65). Although mainstream liberals insist that "the law is a major vehicle for bringing about social change through the restructuring of social and economic relationships" (Melton & Saks, 1986, p. 244), radical activists discover fairly quickly that law's "deflecting" role is more powerful than its "effecting" one. Law, in short, is as likely to be an opponent as an ally of those seeking fundamental change.

According to Haney (1980), "psychologists have been slow to decide whether they want to stand outside the [legal] system to study, critique, and change it, or to embrace and be employed by it" (p. 152). It is increasingly clear that, since most psychologists are not radicals, they are more likely to perceive the law's potential for social reform than its central role in blocking fundamental change. This perception, which adds to the law's "potential for co-optation of psychologists" (Haney, 1980, p. 152), justifies dismissal of radical change on the grounds that it is unnecessary rather than just undesirable. As we limit reform efforts to what appears to be legally reasonable, we inevitably refrain from advocating the kind of radical social change that many of us suspect would lead to a psychologically healthier society.

Examining the status quo-maintenance function of law from the perspective of an outsider rather than an insider raises questions about organized psychology's reliance on appellate "friend-of-the-court" briefs as a primary means of social advocacy (DeLeon, 1986; Roesch, Golding, Hans, & Reppucci, 1991; Tremper, 1987). If it is true that reliance on law at least sometimes prevents fundamental social change, then organized psychology should at least sometimes be an "enemy" of the court rather than its friend.

Psychological Jurisprudence and Appellate Advocacy

APA'a appellate advocacy is obviously controversial, as the letters to almost any issue of the APA Monitor make clear. Critics may disagree with the values of APA's decisionmakers, with the interpretation of the relevant data, or with the very legitimacy of advocacy, which is seen by some as incompatible with objectivity or the perception of objectivity (Elliott, 1991; Gardner, Scherer, & Tester, 1989; Grisso & Saks, 1991; Small, 1991, 1992; Underwager & Wakefield, 1992). As Grisso and Saks (1991) put it, "when psychology takes aim at the legal decision [of the Supreme Court], it risks eventually losing all" (p. 209).

Grisso and Saks (1991), seeking to justify only a limited form of appellate advocacy, argued that our goal in writing appellate briefs should not be to "win the case" but simply to "compel judges to act like judges, stating clearly the fundamental values and normative premises on which their decisions are grounded, rather than hiding behind empirical errors or uncertainties" (p. 208). Although exposing judicial dishonesty is a worthwhile goal that psychologists can be effective at, this narrow view of success takes into account the Court's values but ignores psychology's. Psychology too has normative grounds for decisions, and it is those values--not an abstract interest in data--that justify psychology's efforts to influence society.

Ultimately, success must be measured not by examining the influence of individual briefs on isolated Court decisions but by the overall success of the appellate brief strategy. Is society significantly improved through the brief-writing process more than would be the case if those resources were redirected elsewhere? Are occasionally successful reform efforts enough if the cost is reduced effort to seek more radical change? Forcing judges to expose their political values may be professionally and personally satisfying, but it does not lead to significant social change.

Psychology's values are clearly relevant to legal policy. According to an emerging psychological jurisprudence strongly influenced by Gary B. Melton (e.g, Melton, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991; Melton & Saks, 1986; Wiener & Melton, 1990), psychologists can and should explicitly base their law-focused research and their policy recommendations on the maximization of psychologically desirable values such as dignity, autonomy, privacy, psychological sense of community, equality, and justice. Since conflict over such values lies at the heart of many legal conflicts, a psycholegal jurisprudence that explicitly uses these values as a yardstick to measure the desirability and effectiveness of legal policy is a welcome addition to psychology's concern with social issues. The particular way in which psychological jurispudence delineates these overlapping values makes abundant sense, and Melton (1990, 1991) routinely draws reasonable conclusions as he suggests how legal authorities should take human beings seriously.

Unfortunately, Melton's view of psychological jurisprudence inextricably--and unnecessarily--links the values of psychology with the values of law. Social Science in Law (SSL), he noted, "is based at least implicitly on reverance for the moral values that underlie the Constitution (e.g., autonomy, privacy, and equality) and respect for the law as an institution that reifies our sense of community, values that also are basic to ethics in psychology" (1990, p. 321). For Melton, thus, psychology and law--or, at least, our law--share significant values to such a degree that psychologists can easily adopt an "insider's perspective" on the law (p. 320). Significantly, "although SSL scholars generally seek reform of the law, . . . their goals are fundamentally conservative in that they accept the law on its own terms" (p. 321).

As might be expected, Melton's view is widely shared. Tomkins and Oursland (1991), for example, noted that "it is in this spirit of optimism that the other five articles in this issue [of Law and Human Behavior] celebrate and honor the bicentennial of the United States constitution" (p. 116). Given this perspective, it is not surprising that psycholegal scholars assume that "the law is a good thing" (Melton, 1991, p. 6). However, although Melton ackowledged that this "assumption" is "at once both normative and empirical" (1991, p. 6) and that there is a "shading between 'is' and 'ought'" (p. 6, ft. 3), he insufficiently distinguished between his view of how law should work and how law does work. Similarly, although he acknowledged that "even when legal authorities have had benevolent intent, they sometimes have failed to appreciate the meaning of taking people seriously" (p. 13), Melton insisted (without citing any evidence) that "nonetheless, it is likely that courts in societies governed by the rule of law gradually move in a direction consistent with respect for human dignity" (p. 14, emphasis in original). A reasonable counter-argument, based on a longer-term view of the historical and anthropological record, holds that the development of state legal systems represents societal deterioration rather than evolutionary advance (Diamond, 1974; see also Fox, 1985).

The benign view of psychology's relationship to law is very different from two movements criticized by Melton (1990, 1991): the critical legal studies (CLS) movement, which views law as "inherently an instrument of oppression that is used to legitimate the alienating behavior of the ruling class" (Melton, 1990, pp. 319-320), and the law and economics movement, which sees law "not just as a tool to promote the interests of the privileged, but as a proper tool" (Melton, p. 324, emphasis in original). Although Melton properly rejects the law and economics movement's support for the privileged, he too readily dismisses the basic CLS caution about the ultimate role of law. It is neither intuitively nor empirically clear that the SSL school's arguments have more merit than the CLS school's, though Melton insists that "we should be willing to advance the arguments of the SSL school about the nature of law" (1990, p. 329). If the critics are correct, however, then psycholegal scholars are likely to continue psychology's history of serving the status quo rather than changing it (Sarason, 1981).

In contrast to the view that the constitution primarily values autonomy, privacy, and equality, it is just as reasonable to see in constitutional law values such as the sanctity of private property, elite rule, and maintenance of the status quo. If the constitution is in practice almost infinitely malleable--thus the debate over Supreme Court nominees--then organized psychology must advocate particular policies not because of values psychology shares with law but because of values psychology embraces on its own. Rather than accepting the co-opting role of insider, social scientists should often be outsiders when evaluating law:

Efforts to make the law "work better" (i.e., to have its consequences more fully approximate current intentions and expectations) would necessarily accept the current framework within which it is analyzed and understood. In effect, such studies would accept, perpetuate, and more fully effectuate whatever values actually animate such uses of the law. But the point is to get outside of existing frameworks and to see the law through the eyes of its objects as well as its sponsors. (Dolbeare, 1974, p. 227, emphasis in original)

Melton dismisss the critical legal studies movement because it "takes a cynical view of the law as an oppressive influence in society" (1990, p. 328) and "believe[s] that liberal reform is part of the problem; significant change will occur only with radical overhaul of the legal system" (1990, p. 321, footnote 8). In contrast, "the most fundamental assumption in psychological jurisprudence, implicit in psycholegal scholars' continuing work to help the law to do its job better, is that law is intended to promote human welfare" (Melton, 1991, p. 6, emphasis in original). Whether that assumption is correct, however, is an empirical issue as well as a normative one, as is the issue of what "law" does in fact "intend." These issues should be addressed, not simply dismissed, particularly since there is ample evidence that even our law hinders fundamental social change. Psychological jurisprudence should not be defined so narrowly as to exclude psychologists who view law as oppressive.

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Law Against Social Change

A radical critique of psychology's links to the status quo, departing from the assumption that law is inherently advantageous, directs our attention to how the law hinders fundamental social change even as it allows more modest liberal reform. To stimulate such attention, I will speculate briefly about two interrelated aspects of law that psychologists have frequently addressed, but generally without giving sufficient attention to how those aspects inhibit progressive social change: law's focus on procedural justice and narrow technicality to deflect attention from substantive justice, and the advancement of myths to legitimize legal control. These two factors, inherent to law, limit social change both directly and through a variety of fairly predictable "unintended side-effects" of legal reforms. They also call into question organized psychology's reliance on appellate briefs and other reform efforts and point toward new directions for psycholegal attention.

Law's concern for procedure and legitimacy go beyond the more blatant use of legal coercion, which remains fully in force and should not be minimized. Electoral challenges in the United States, for example, are deflected by state legislatures, which devise short deadlines and long petition requirements to keep third parties off the ballot. Lawsuits by activists rarely succeed, given litigation delays, costs, procedural pitfalls, and judges' backgrounds; legal principles and doctrines such as standing, governmental immunity, and political questions, as well as the likelihood of reversal upon appeal, limit how much even a sympathetic judge can allow activists to win. Police surveillance, infliltration, and repression of activist groups continue, as does the selective use of trespassing, disturbing the peace, and other criminal charges. Corporations file "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation" against those who use letters to newspapers, public statements, and similar methods to criticize projects such as toxic waste dumps, thus using the law to transform political debates into private disputes and tieing up the activist's time and resources (Canan & Pring, 1988). At trial, judges usually prevent defendants from presenting a necessity defense based on their motivations for breaking the law (Metz, 1987) and refuse to tell juries about jury nullification, the doctrine that allows jurors to acquit despite the evidence (Fox, 1993).

In response to legal coercion, psychologists might expand their sporadic efforts to help defend political activists and examine how the machinery of legal coercion is used in practice Despite the value of these efforts, though, their limitations should be kept in mind. Tools devised for radical purposes cannot be restricted to those ends; in the long run, any useful methods will be adopted by government or corporate forces with far greater resources (Haney, 1980). For example, scientific jury selection, developed to help the Harrisburg Seven defend themselves against Vietnam-era conspiracy charges (Schulman, Shaver, Colman, Emrich, & Christie, 1973), is used today not by activists but by large corporations paying high fees to Litigation Sciences and similar companies (Cox, 1989).

The Procedural Justice Trap

An essential method used by authorities to blunt calls for significant social change is to focus attention on procedural justice and narrow legal technicality in order to deflect attention from more far-reaching calls for substantive justice and fundamental fairness. Although a concern for fair procedures in itself is not suspect, the focus on procedures leads to the trap of "false consciousness" (Tyler, 1990): "Government leaders may find it easier to create conditions of 'perceived fairness' than to solve problems or provide needed benefits" (Tyler, Rasinski, & Griffin, 1986, p. 976). Unfortunately, psychologists focused on procedural justice too easily dismiss substantive outcomes. Tyler, thus, insisted that "the study of procedural justice is neutral about the quality of the existing legal system" and that "it is beyond the scope of this book to evaluate whether those studied 'ought' to be more or less satisfied than they are with legal authorities" (1990, p. 148).

In contrast, Haney (1991) argued that the Supreme Court's "'let them eat due process' approach to equal protection questions" is part of "the national obsession with process [that] has allowed us to ignore dramatic inequalities in substantive outcome" (p. 194). Similarly, Cohen (1989) noted that

an appearance of justice is often fabricated, usually by those in power, and often through deceit. . . . The offer to "hear you out," to "invite your participation," to "listen to what you have to say (for yourself)" is often used as a device to create an image of concern and justice and to obscure injustice. . . . Fabrications of justice are easy for the powerful to create and are often effective in deceiving both the victims of injustice and third-party observers. (p. 32)

When the law insists that the rules of the game count more than the outcome, injustice is tolerated because it seems to result from a legitimate process rather than from institutionalized structural factors favoring some at the expense of others (Deutsch & Steil, 1988; Gibson, 1989; Hochschild, 1981; Kairys, 1990; Kluegel & Smith, 1986; Shepelak, 1989).

The doctrine that "the rule of law" is always superior to nonlaw assumes that the procedurally correct application of general principles is best even when it brings patently unfair results in particular cases. True, principles of equity or fairness common to almost all legal systems (Newman, 1965) allow formal legal technicalities to be set aside when the rule of law leads technically, procedurally, and inexorably to injustice. However, although equity is accepted in theory, in practice most judges dismiss it precisely because use of equity implies that the law is inadequate. Consequently, equity has been artificially limited to narrow areas of law and to relatively ineffective remedies (Newman, 1965), transformed in the United States to suit commercial and other mainstream interests (Horwitz, 1977) rather than to aid those who might use equity-like doctrines such as jury nullification and the necessity defense to support actions for social change (Fox, in press). Legal authorities understand that a truly equitable legal system would lead to fundamental changes, because "if one pursues genuine justice . . . one never knows where one will end. A law created as a function of justice has something unpredictable in it which embarrasses the jurist" (Ellul, 1964, p. 292).

Psychologists addressing procedural justice should be prepared to assess substantive results, and to raise public dissatisfaction when ostensibly fair procedures mask injustice (Deutsch & Steil, 1988). "Psychology is probably the most appropriate science to develop that awareness. In exposing the mechanisms of the prevalent ideology, psychology can make a meaningful contribution to the course of social change" (Prilleltensky, 1989, p. 799).

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The Legitimacy Trap

A complex of ideologically inspired myths and assumptions leads to the core belief that law is legitimate, that obedience to law is appropriate simply because legal authorities have the right to make demands (Friedman, 1985; Kelman & Hamilton, 1989). The widespread belief in law's legitimacy enables governmental authorities to count on voluntary compliance with demands that might be rejected without such a belief. Since it "induces people to obey orders and commands without the use of force" (Friedman, 1985, p. 30), legitimacy is a major barrier to social change (Lefcourt, 1971).

The notion of legitimacy is relevant to the focus of psychological jurisprudence on the symbolic impact of law, the subjective meaning of law in everyday life, legal socialization, and the development of legal consciousness (e.g, Melton, 1988; Melton & Saks, 1986; Small, 1990; Tapp & Levine, 1977; Tyler, 1990; Wiener, 1990). For the most part, psychologists accept the dominant assumption that legitimacy should be enhanced in order to gain greater compliance with the demands of legal authorities, at least with the demands of "legal authorities who take citizens seriously as people" (Melton, 1991, p. 14). Unfortunately, too little attention is paid to the possibility that legal authorities are not as benevolent as the legitimacy myth assumes. Consequently, the myth enables those authorities to define critics as dangerous and dampens public protest when radicals are dealt with through procedurally correct coercion. In this sense, belief in legitimacy is itself a manifestation of false consciousness.

That legitimacy reaches mythical proportions is widely acknowledged, and even applauded. As Friedman (1984) noted, "Even if this idea of law above and beyond all politics is a myth, it is still a valuable way to appeal to people's inner voices, to motives higher than their crude self-interest" (p. 275). The danger, however, is that "once people believe in a myth, their skeptical sense vanishes, they accept it as fact, and--most importantly--the invented reality becomes reality itself, the only reality" (Nimmo & Combs, 1990, p. 18). When myths become reality, "they can be employed by all manner of persons--demagogues, pitchmen, con artists, hucksters, soothsayers--to serve selfish ends and by all manner of other people purporting more reputable, altruistic ends" (Nimmo & Combs, 1990, p. 18).

Legitimacy is enhanced by two empirical assumptions about human behavior discussed by Tapp (1974) that lead us to see calls for social change as dangerous rather than liberating. The myth of humankind's lawlessness ignores the fact that "the search for rules and rule dependency appears early in human life and is visible across all activity from games to government and language to law" (Tapp, 1974, p. 53). "In essence," she added, "no community is truly lawless," and adherence to the myth perpetuates a law-and-order mentality.

The flip side of the lawlessness myth is the legality myth, with its "crippling . . . assumption that legality and its correlates of justice, obligation, and responsibility reside only in the law. . . . If [this assumption] continues . . . then the emergence of an authoritarian repressive law is more likely" (Tapp, 1974, p. 54). As McBride (1974) warned,

In any likely future evolution toward a system of unlimited social control, the intensification of the sense of obligation to obey the law would certainly be crucial. At the conceptual limit, obedience to the law would become purely habitual, . . . [M]ore attention ought to be paid, in discussions of the empirical limits of law, to the manipulative techniques whereby the sense of obligation to obey the law can be, and is, intensified. (p. 31)

The legitimacy myth's "fetishizing of the laws" (McBride, 1974, p. 31) is necessary for the political-legal system to continue in its current form. "In a very real sense, the 'consent of the governed' depends upon such fictions" (Haney, 1991, p. 185), including the fiction that the law is sacred (McBride, 1974). Although myths "may be viewed by system sustainers as necessary, they are usually counterproductive paradigms for growth and development. For this reason, definitions and limits must be examined for their logical and psychological veracity or their mythical and fictitious quality" (Tapp, 1974, p. 50).

Tapp (1974) called not for abandonment of law but for its fundamental transformation into a change agent. Such transformation is unlikely, though, considering the strength of the lawlessness and legality myths as well as other myths, fictions, and assumptions. The logic of Tapp's argument--which parallels anarchist rejection of the claim that the political state is necessary for social organization (Barclay, 1982; Bookchin, 1982; Clastres, 1974/1977; Fox, 1985, in press; Ritter, 1980)--leads not to mere legal reform but to societal transformation.

Unintended Side-Effects and the Anarchist Insight

Although law helps elites dominate others, advocates of legal reform generally have benevolent aims. And often enough to maintain confidence in this approach, liberals do succeed in bending the law in a humane direction, making life a little better--sometimes a lot better--for many people. Unfortunately, reform efforts often succeed at the cost of unpredicted and unintended side-effects that complicate other problems or lead ultimately to failure, partly because so many seemingly separate social problems are in fact related (Fox, 1991).

One of the most common unintended--but not unpredictable--side-effects occurs when legal solutions reduce people's ability and motivation to work with others on community solutions to social problems (Bankowski, 1983; Black, 1989; Bradney, 1985; Fox, 1985, in press). Sarason (1976/1982) called this phenomenon the central anarchist insight when he urged community psychologists to take into account the degree to which the centralized state inhibits both individual autonomy and psychological sense of community. Thus, although legal reforms may "work" in a sense, they do so by forcing complex human interactions into an artificial legal framework, creating unhealthy dependency on legal authorities.

As examples, in a study of working-class legal consciousness, Merry (1990) found "a new relationship . . . between the individual and the state. . . . These plaintiffs free themselves from the control of neighbors and spouses but tie themselves more closely to the state" (p. 182). Bachmann (1984-85, pp. 30-31) pointed out that "public interest lawyering takes power from people and gives it to attorneys. It increases the sense of helplessness and frustration on the part of many, and disguises realities of political struggle and creates false consciousness." And Bumiller (1988) concluded that "the bonds of victimhood are reinforced rather than broken by the intervention of legal discourse" (p. 3). Although a variation of this argument is made by conservatives criticizing "welfare dependency," it should not be dismissed as merely a right-wing subterfuge seeking reduced taxes. A radical approach should acknowledge the dependency argument, but insist on structural change to revitalize community empowerment and self-determination and to eliminate the destructive inequality inherent in the current economic and legal system.

Law may reduce individual and community capabilities for a variety of reasons. Black (1989) noted that "in theory, law makes trustworthiness unnecessary, even obsolete. When law is fully in command, morality itself loses relevance. Right and wrong become a specialty of professionals such as lawyers, police, and judges" (p. 85). McBride (1974, p. 33) argued that law "has an alienating or even a repressive effect on the members of society, especially on those who occupy subordinate social roles." And M. J. Lerner (1982) concluded that law teaches that people are not capable of being good unless they are forced to be good. To the extent that these social-psychological criticisms are proved correct, legal reform is a short-sighted strategy.these social-psychological criticisms are proved correct, legal reform is a short-sighted strategy.

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DirectionsFor Psycholegal Attention

In his review of the history of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS), Grisso (1991) outlined the organization's development from Gestation through Adolescence, ending with recent movement "Toward Adulthood" during which the organization's identity is refined with increasing maturity. The danger, which extends beyond AP-LS to APA's second century of life, is that the seductive appeal of mainstream legitimacy leads to a middle-age of stagnation, co-optation, and self-delusion.

In seeking a liberating identity instead, psycholegal scholars should reexamine their assumption that law is sufficiently redeemable and concentrate on replacing law with nonlegal solutions to human problems and on changing society so significantly that the use of law can ultimately be reduced even further. Instead of searching the law for values congruent with our own, we should find our values in our psychological theory, political ideology, and personal and organizational ethics. Law is simply irrelevant to conceptions of what is psychologically desirable.

Although they recommended against public advocacy on controversial issues, Horowitz and Willging (1974) noted that "the social scientist who has a personal or professional bias will probably do better to state it right away and defuse the issue" (p. 374). In my view, psychologists should have a professional bias in favor of significant social change, because the evidence is clear enough that radical change is necessary for psychological wellbeing as well as for economic fairness, ecological survival, and a host of other reasons (Fox, 1985). Thus, although the values laid out by psychological jurisprudence are a good starting point in advocating social change, the focus should incorporate the more sweeping critiques by psychologists who have related their psychological theory to the political society around them.

If the critics are right, then our obligation is to embrace Kenneth Ring's call for a "psychology of the left" (cited in Wrightsman, 1991b, p. 31), a combination of advocacy research and social action designed to support the powerless rather than the powerful. In the terminology of psychological jurisprudence, radical social change itself is a value that psychologists should seek to advance. The psycholegal scholar can focus in particular on how the law works to maintain the status quo and prevent social change and on how individuals and groups can more effectively seek to oppose this inherent function of law. Thus, rather than seeing psychological jurisprudence and the critical legal studies movement as fundamentally inconsistent, the two should be seen as potential allies in opposition to the increasing influence of the law and economics school and other conservative trends.

As part of this process, we should become more familiar with, and appreciative of, the advantages of alternative societies that demonstrate the possibility of social arrangements more in keeping with human needs and values. These include the anthropological record of "primitive" groups typifying most of human existence (Barclay, 1982) as well as the wide historical variety of intentional communities and other alternatives (Gardner, 1978; Moment & Kraushaar, 1980). It is useful to speculate even about "utopian" societies, "conceiving a just social arrangement in which the well-being of the population is fostered" (Prilleltensky, 1989, p. 800; see also Fox, 1985; Maslow, 1965; Moos & Brownstein, 1977; Morawski, 1982; Prilleltensky, 1990; Wrightsman, 1991a). Such speculation would help us clarify the degree to which our own society falls short of both historical and theoretical alternatives and help us consider how human needs and values might be met in a more satisfying manner.

Going beyond theoretical and empirical analyses of the role of law in society and of possible alternatives, organized psychology can seek more directly to arouse public dissatisfaction with the legal system that maintains the status quo--to "awaken the sense of injustice" (Deutsch & Steil, 1988) by exposing false consciousness and clarifying the consequences of legal business as usual. Consistent with the importance of value confrontation in stimulating individual value change (Kohlberg, 1981; Rokeach, 1973, 1979), organized confrontation with established norms is necessary in order to stimulate societal change. Psychologists can assist social movements as well as individuals in their "moral confrontations" over societal value priorities (Ball-Rokeach & Tallman, 1979) by building on the literatures in nonconformity and empowerment, resistance to authority, social movement participation and mobilization, civil disobedience, ideology, etc., material that spans social, community, and political psychology as well as other social science disciplines. A recent example is Kelman and Hamilton's (1989) work on how to decrease obedience to illegal or immoral orders by military, government, and corporate authorities.

Psychology cannot be separated from ideology. Rather than seeking to maintain credibility based on outdated notions of neutrality and objectivity, making our agenda explicit is the honest thing to do. It may be the case, as Grisso and Saks (1991) noted, that "without scientific credibility, psychology would have no power over which to accomplish any objective in the courts" (p. 210). But if our credibility depends on hiding our values, then perhaps the courts are not where we should be seeking our objectives. At the least, the need to hide our goals should make us suspect that law's values and psychology's values are not as consistent as some have argued. Taking more radical stands on public issues will lead to a loss of some support, but perhaps more focused organizations will learn to advocate fundamental social change more effectively than has typically been considered practical or desirable by those who accept the status quo.


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