UNDERSTANDING HOW LAW INFLUENCES ENVIRONMENTS AND BEHAVIOR

These resources discuss the many mechanisms through which law works to influence public health. Theories and perspectives in this section come from a number of distinct disciplines, including public health, economics, psychology, sociolegal studies and criminology.  

Integrating Diverse Theories for Public Health Law Research

This guide first elaborates on why it is so important to investigate how, as well as whether, law is having an effect on health, using safety belt laws as one example. It then uses a second example in greater detail — the health effects of criminal laws regulating HIV exposure through sex — to illustrate how diverse theories of legal effect can be productively used.

Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from Criminology

In "Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from Criminology," Wesley Jennings and Tom Mieczkowski provide researchers key theories from criminology which explain the influence of criminal law on behavior. Public health law researchers investigating the effects of regulations and sanctions on health behavior can draw on these theories and the research methods and tools criminologists have devised to test them.

Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from the Law & Society Tradition

"Law and Society" is the term for scholarship using a variety of social science methods to study law and legal institutions. The unique contribution of this approach is its focus on meaning-making as a mechanism of legal effect. A foundational assumption is the need to focus on law in action rather than solely on law on the books.

Key law and society concepts, including legal consciousness, law as legality, organizational legalization and organizational politics elaborate how law operates in action through meaning making.

Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from Public Health

Publication Date: 04/10/2012

As public health and medical breakthroughs of the early 20th century controlled infectious diseases and expanded life expectancy, public health shifted its attention from infectious to chronic disease. This era of public health primarily focused on individual-level risk factors and intervention approaches. Most recently there has been a movement to re-emphasize the importance of fundamental determinants of health and disease, including economic, social and physical conditions.

Integrating Diverse Theories for Public Health Law Research

The other Methods Monographs have introduced a variety of theoretical frameworks and practical tools for studying how laws and legal practices influence behavior, environments and, ultimately, health outcomes in a population. Theoretically grounded research illuminating mechanisms of legal effect has at least three important benefits for public health law research and practice:

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