Sociology Paper on Social-Legal Aspects Facing the Refugees in Jordan

Durkheim on Social Law and the Social-Legal Aspects Facing the Refugees in Jordan


Jordan is currently one of the major leading refugee destinations in the Middle East. This is because of its proximity to countries within the Middle East that have been characterized by instances of violence. Emile Durkheim, while writing on matters related tote sociology of law, operates on the assumption that every society originates from a form of organization that is founded on mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. Furthermore, while recognizing that there are different forms of solidarity, Durkheim argues that social solidarity, which relies on the boundaries of a moral phenomenon, perceives morality as the foundation of any law (Hudson 23). The main objective of this paper is to provide an understanding of Durkheim’s sociology of law through an in-depth analysis to the social and legal aspect that define refugee situation in Jordan.

Repressive Law and the Refugee Situation in Jordan

Repressive law in the view of Durkheim encompasses all forms of criminal law. This is because of the relationship that this approach to understanding of the legal aspect in the society entails. According to Durkheim, the greater the number of repressive laws in any society the higher the level of mechanical solidarity (Hudson 25). Mechanical solidarity, in the view of Durkheim, is the type of societal cohesiveness that exists in situation where members of a community are attracted to each other due to some form of mutual resemblance. In this situation, homogeneity, which is the fact that people share a common ancestry, creates a strong bond among members of the group. These members also share a similar set of beliefs and sentiments within a defined religious framework (Hudson 27). Individualism in such a society is discouraged as members are socialized into accepting collective responsibilities and taking up collective tasks as part of their societal obligation. Any form of non-conformity in mechanical solidarity is viewed as a form of rebellion that must be quickly quelled by sanctions and punishments (Pickering 34). Mechanical solidarity therefore holds the assumption that an act is perceived to be a criminal offence if it offends the consciousness of member of the groups. The existence of repressive laws connotes that of repressive sanctions, which are only applicable on individuals who rebel against societal expectations (Hudson 102).

When this law is assessed in relation to the social legal factors affecting the refugee population in Syria it would be important to understand the levels of diversity that exists between different refugee populations in Jordan. In every refugee, camp there is populations from different nationalities such as Palestine, Iraq and Syria (Kneebone et al 2014, p.34). These individuals were driven out of their countries because of conflict related situations. However, despite their arrival to Jordan as asylum seekers, the government of Jordan has continuously allowed them to practice their traditional and religious practices that characterize part of their freedoms. Majority of this population are Christians and Muslims (Shia and Sunni Muslims). Different religious groups have the tendency of grouping themselves under their own religious groups and engage in some form of worship (Sharp 119). Other activities that are unique to religious groups such as marriages and naming of children are done in accordance with the teachings of a specific religious group of the concerned parties. Religious groups in refugee camps have the social task of imparting morals on their subject (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 56). These are defined by religious norms that each members of the group must adhere to with the risk of punishment upon faulting any of the requirements. These form part of repressive laws that will define the punishment given to those who engage in immoral activities (Sharp 123).

The law of retaliation, which is derived from the biblical teachings of Moses, forms the basis of repressive laws. This is an indication that in any social setting when an individual is engaged in some form of behavior that is perceived as largely unacceptable by members of the society, it is legal for these members to determine the type of punishment that the said members should receive. To this extent, Durkheim finds a causal relationship between repressive laws and religious sanctions (Hudson 28).

Since 2011, following the civilian uprising in Syrian, Jordan has become the recipient of the highest population of refugees among Syrian neighbors. This prompted the country’s Ministry of planning to develop a National Resilience Plan that could be used in designing the necessary structures that would allow every community and nation to act in accordance with requirement of their traditional cultures (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 44). This meant that the ministry was planning to subdivide the refugees according to their nationalities as a way of promoting mechanical cohesion among members of the same country. The socialization process has frequently been cited as the main reasons why the government of Jordan has endeavored to develop refugee camps respecting the cultural and religious orientations of different societies (Sharp 120). Syrians for instance have been grouped on one section of the camp to ease communication and socialization among children. In addition, socially and religiously embraced traditions also provide these organizations with a platform of engaging social requirement and retributions in situations of conflict within the society (Kneebone et al 2014, p.49).

The existence of repressive laws in the refugee situation can be used in understanding the relevance of mechanistic solidarity in any social setting. Mechanistic solidarity enhances the possibility that members of one community will abide by the requirements of the existing societal laws as a way of ensuring that different generations within the camps understand societal requirements and expectations (Hudson 28). This is often with the hope that upon return to their mother countries different those from the refugee camps can easily intergrate with other members of the society.

Penal laws are defined by their ability to regulate criminal activities in any social setting. This in the view of Durkheim is founded on the assumption that it is the responsibility of an individual to respect a force superior to that of his own (Cotterrell 200). The superior force in the view of Durkheim is often understood as the main deity, God, in religious platforms. Durkheim argues that the presence of the superior being provides an explanation why repressive laws surpass the religious connotations into the social lives of a group of individuals (Hudson 33).

Majority of the refugees in Jordan are Islam, by religion. However, the religious requirements of this group of people often define their social beliefs especially in the mode of dressing between men and women (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 66). In addition, these laws also define other aspects of language and marriage. Strict adherences to these laws is perceived as a sign of respect to the deity while an individual who purports to contravene these requirements is at times exiled from the community as a way of punishment (Sharp 127).

The mechanical composition of different refugee camps on the basis of religion and country of origin in Jordan has been used as an approach towards the promotion of cultural and religious attributes. In addition, through these laws, he refugee community has been able to attach sanctions to these laws to act as retaliatory responses to any form of offence that affect the religious sentiments of the community. For Durkheim, the use of repressive laws is often to maintain high level and strong collective consciousness (Pickering 44).

Despite the desire and ability of the government of Jordan to develop platforms that enhance the ability of refugees from different nationalities to exercise their right to apply repressive laws unique to their cultures, there are challenges related to the implementation of this approach to refugee lives (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 60). For instance, the use of repressive laws means that the government of Jordan will be unable to ensure some form of harmonization in application of administrative procedures especially on matters related to the transition of adulthood, which requires age assessment procedures. This is attributable to the understating the repressive laws allow different communities to initiate their youth into adulthoods according to the requirements of their traditional and religious practices (Sharp 134). It is important to note that the source of the conflict results from discrepancies in polices and laws of the country compared to the religious requirement of these communities. Therefore, young refugee asylum seekers have to be reintroduced into a separate system that is in disagreement with their socialization process. Despite this complications the government of Jordan often argues that it is a compulsory approach that will ensure that the children acquire continuous support from the government and other organizations within the country that are in charge of refugee wellbeing (Sharp 137).


Restitutive Law and the Refugee Situation in Jordan

Durkheim provides an additional approach to the understanding of the social law and its application in the contemporary society. According to Durkheim, restitutive laws, which result in restitutive sanctions, are only common in organic societies. An organic society is one that is characterized by a structure and highly differentiated approach to the division of labor (Hudson 34). This type of cohesiveness in the view of Durkheim is derived from the understanding that society is the main source of labor for every member. However, for proper functioning of the society to be realized it is important for the members of the said society to be allocated responsibilities in accordance with their areas of expertise. Durkheim gives the example of the function of the body parts of an animal to ensure the survival of the said animal (Hudson 35). Through this approach Durkheim assets that every part of an animal his specialized to perform specific functions that are unique to its wellbeing. However, for a common purpose to be realized all the body parts must be united in performing different roles. This means that the solidarity of these parts emanates from division of labor. In organic solidarity, members of the community do not share a common ancestry or religious belief but are focused on the role of an individual in realizing the societal goals (Cotterrell 201).

In Jordan, the government has been able to develop the law of refugees to help intergrate these individuals into the labor market. This is based on the understanding that all the refugees consume national resources and it is necessary they are engaged in matters of societal growth and the production of more goods for their own consumption (Sharp 135). The desire to ensure proper infrastructure that propagates the division of labor among refugees explains why the government with the aid of different refugee agencies has been able to construct learning facilities (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 59). These facilities are aimed at equipping the refugee population with essential skills that could ensure that they are relevant to the job market in Jordan. In addition, the learning approach given in this context is one that is aimed at promoting different individuals to divergent sectors within the economy (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 60). According to the 2011 report on the education policy towards refugee children, more than 24000 refugee children enrolled in enrolled in public learning centers in Jordan (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 68). This means that the use of restitutive law in Jordan among the refugees is meant to promote the wellbeing of an individual at the expense of other members of the society.

In the view of Durkheim, restitutive justice often accompanies restitutive law, which is a conciliatory form of punishment. These sanctions are often meant to restore an individual to their initial position before their involvement in disrespect to the law. Restitutive sanctions are often based on rights, immunities, duties, and privileges that necessitate reciprocal transactions between people (Hudson 36). Restitutive law in the view of Durkheim can be applied in the civil law, procedural law, administrative and constitutional laws. Durkheim views the modern organic society as containing institutions that are differentiated in form of institutions that perform specialized roles and individuals allowed by the same law to be autonomous in their diction making process perform the resulting actions (Cotterrell 201).

When understood from the perspective of the legal and social aspects that define the refugee situation in Jordan, restitutive law is illustrative of the redress that an accused person seeks in the courts of justice. The law in Jordan allows refugees who are employed in any organization within the country to be subjected to equal rights and obligations as other employees (Kneebone 99). This means that in situations of any form of discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, or ethnic society, the refugee is entitled to compensatory damages, which are often provided in the form of financial resources (Sharp 140). In some situations, the refugees can be awarded these compensatory damages in the form of payments arising from civil suits such as the breach of contract. In such situations the infringements of the resulting injury is not viewed against the moral levels of the society but on the crimes committed by the individual and the requirements of the law. The state, being the representative of the society is only involved in the administration of civil remedies (Kneebone 100). In terms of medical care, the public health system in Jordan is open to both the refugees and the citizens. This means that refugees in this country pay the same subsidized amounts paid by other members of the society (Kneebone 108)

Unlike repressive laws, restitutive laws are not integrated aspect of collective consciousness of the society. This is attributable to the absence of common religious beliefs that connotes the responsibilities of every member of the said society. The violation of restitutive laws may fail to evoke stringent measures (Hudson 45). Restitutive laws emanate from the society and the collective consciousness of the said society. However, restitutive laws are less likely to create a common bond among members of the society because it focuses on the role of an individual within a community. This is an indication that for a society to be perceived as successful, every member must participate in different ways for the realization of individual goals, which translate into the development of the society (Cotterrell 202). Focus is therefore on the individual who plays the role in relation to the law and societal perception that might arise.

In Jordan, refugees are also liable to jail terms and different forms of sentencing according to the requirements of the constitution. Refugees who engage in any form of outlawed behavior must be subjected to trial by a court of law, which is charged with the responsibility of deterring their innocence or guilt to a crime in relation to the requirement of the law (Sharp 150). The law of refugees is subsidiary to the constitution of Jordan, which applies to every member in that country irrespective of tier nationality or race (Kneebone et al 2014, p. 88). The influx of refugees into Jordan especially at the beginning of the civil unrest in Syria, the government of Jordan developed constitutional mechanisms on the looming threat of insecurity in the country. This made it the responsibility of every refugee and citizen to work towards safeguarding their surrounding against any form of insecurity. Refugees just like the citizens were subjected to equal treatment in terms of crimes related to security. This was aimed at ensuring that every member of the society was in charge of his or her wellbeing at a personal level while it was the responsibility of the state to provide care to the rest of the society.

The main role of restitutive laws in the view of Durkheim is to facilitate the process of conflict resolution, enhance reconciliation, and ensure the restoration of member of the society into their previous state prior to the conflicts. This is an indication that through the maintenance of a harmonious equilibrium in the society, restitutive laws are social binding forces among individuals (Hudson 46). The government of Jordan operates on the realization that there is need for the refugee population and the citizens of Jordan to co-exist for the wellbeing of the society (Pickering 67). For this form of co-existence to be realized, it is the responsibility of the government to develop mechanism that allow for social integration and the development of interpersonal relationships between the two factions. This not only decreases the possibility of conflict but also increases the possibility of an easier way of solving conflicts are restoring the society into its original state (Sharp 157).


Durkheim uses law from its external sense. This is because he perceives the law as an external and objective index in the measurements of the level of social solidarity in the society. This explains why he asserts that the ides of the society originated form a simple mechanical to complex organic systems that defines the types of laws that correspond to the desires of the society. In Jordan, the prevailing situation of the refugees is facilitated by desire by the government to enhance social solidarity among refugees through the promotion of cultural practices and the promotion of individual progression through specialization and division of labor. 


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