Law and change: Scottish legal heroes
Law and change: Scottish legal heroes

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1.1 Rules and society

The society in which we live is one in which rules, whether in the form of law or otherwise, play a very important part. Rules govern everything that we do and provide a means by which we, as human beings, can live together in a society. Laws are one form of rule and exploring the nature of rules helps provide a foundation on which to build an understanding of ‘law’.

We come across many forms of rules in everyday life, for example, of grammar, arithmetic, the Highway Code, when to ring the emergency services, walking along a pavement, paying for goods purchased or meeting friends. Among the commonest kinds of rule we encounter every day are ‘social rules’. These rules are ones which guide the way we relate to each other in social situations and within our communities. They are ones we tend to learn through experience, from family, carers and friends, in childhood, and as we enter into the world of adult and work relationships. They are like the rules of our native language, which we tend to learn through listening and repetition rather than being taught. However, the fact that the rules of social life are not written down for us does not mean that we cannot recognise them, especially when they are broken.

Often rules are expressed in neutral language, but nevertheless they reflect the prevailing values of the time and culture in which they were formulated.

Signs with rules aimed at regulating behaviour
Figures 1 and Figure 2 Signs with rules aimed at regulating behaviour

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