Do Norms Count? State Regulation and Compliance in a Norwegian Fishing Community
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionActa Sociologica. 2002, 45 (4), 305-314.
The article addresses the interface between law and the morality of civil society. It starts with a review of the discourse between the utilitarian approach to rationality and perspectives which include normative action. It subsequently explores the dynamics of compliance and non-compliance among a group of Norwegian fishermen. The choice of compliance was guided by an informally-enforced set of moral norms, which largely dissolved the connection between expected benefit and the likeliness of infractions. This moral system defined instances in which violations could take place without being met with informal sanctions, and thus also allowed for strategic action to some extent. The article illustrates how civil society enforces the law according to moral rather than legal standards, and it ends with a suggested concept of legitimacy of law.