Laws and the Complex Control of Behavior

Joao Claudio Todorov


Laws are written to control behavior. Sometimes the control occurs immediately after its approval by Congress and the sanction of the Presidency. Sometimes the actual control is partial: only a part of the country obeys the law, or only a class of citizens, or the enforcement is slow in being established. The analysis of laws as metacontingencies, as sets of interlocked individual contingencies, helps in the study of how, when, and why laws control behavior. Data from individual cases of adolescents in Brasilia who were penalized according to the Statute of Children and Adolescents (Estatuto da Crianca e do Adolescente - ECA) were analyzed to show how the concept of metacontingency helps to understand flaws in the law and flaws in the application of the law.

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility