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Several forces beyond the factors just described also may limit law’s impact on social change. In the modern world, resistance to change is often much more likely than acceptance of change. Members of a society can always find a justification for active resistance to change. They may resist change because it conflicts with their traditional values and beliefs, or they may think that a particular change may simply cost too much money. Sometimes people resist change because it interferes with their habits or makes them feel frightened or threatened. Although the law has certain advantages over other agents of change, for a greater appreciation of the role of law in change, it is helpful to identify some general conditions of resistance that have a bearing on the law. The awareness of these conditions is a major, but often overlooked, prerequisite for a more efficient use of law as a method of social engineering.

The sociological literature recognizes a variety of forces that directly or indirectly may affect law’s ability to create change. This section outlines these forces. As may be expected, there is a substantial amount of overlap among them.

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