Not bound by the law: Legal disobedience in Israeli society

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The issue of whether there is a "prima facie obligation to obey the law" has intrigued human society since the days of Socrates. However, most of the writings in this field have dealt with theoretical aspects of the issue, such as the boundaries of legal obedience and frameworks defining the circumstances under which a citizen is not obliged to obey the law. Very few studies have investigated the phenomenon of legal disobedience empirically. The current study is based on a survey of Israeli citizens belonging to three sectors of the population (Jews in the general population, Israeli Arabs, and orthodox Jewish students enrolled in religious yeshiva seminaries). Respondents' attitudes towards the judicial system, the rule of law, and the duty to obey state laws were examined by means of a questionnaire especially designed for the study. The findings point to gaps between the three groups: Compared to the Arab population and the yeshiva students, support for state laws and the rule of law was stronger among Jews in the general population and, conversely, belief in the supremacy of other laws (i.e. religious laws) over state laws and readiness to take the law into one's own hands were stronger among the Arabs and the yeshiva students, compared to the general Jewish population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-283
Number of pages19
JournalBehavioral Sciences and the Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Law


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