The question of why people follow the law has long been a subject of scholarly consideration. Prevailing accounts of how law changes behavior coalesce around two major themes: legitimacy and deterrence. Advocates of legitimacy argue that law is obeyed when it is created through a legitimate process and its substance comports with community mores. Others emphasize deterrence, particularly those who subscribe to law-and-economics theories. These scholars argue that law makes certain socially undesirable behaviors more costly, and thus individuals are less likely to undertake them.
Alex C. Geisinger & Michael A. Stein,
Expressive Law and the Americans with Disabilities Act,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol114/iss6/11