Reciprocal Exchange as the Basis for Recognition of Law: Examples From American History

TitleReciprocal Exchange as the Basis for Recognition of Law: Examples From American History
Publication TypeUnpublished
AuthorsBenson, BL
Abstract

The literature of American legal history is primarily a history of federal and state governments, creating the false impression that these governments have produced and enforced all relevant law. Indeed, there seems to be a widely held belief that law and order could not exist in a society without the organized authoritarian institutions of the state. But while law can be imposed from above by some powerful authority, like a king, a legislature, or a supreme court, law can also develop "from the ground" (Berman, 1983, p. 274), as a result of a recognition of mutual benefits, through exchanged agreements (explicit or implicit contracts) to obey and participate in the enforcement of such law.