In a World of its Own: How Operative Closure Limits the Law's Ability to Protect Children from Maltreatment.
Peploe, M. (2008). In a World of its Own: How Operative Closure Limits the Law’s Ability to Protect Children from Maltreatment. (Thesis, Master of Laws (LLM)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2231
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2231
New Zealand's figures for child maltreatment are consistently amongst the highest in the OECD. The purpose of this thesis is to understand what the legal system can do to protect children in New Zealand from maltreatment and why legal responses to child maltreatment often appear to be ineffectual or of limited effect. This thesis uses the theories of Luhman and Teubner to argue that the law's ability to protect children from maltreatment is limited because the legal system creates and responds to its own abstract world. This process arises from the functional requirements of the law and its operation as an autopoietic system of power that produces its own abstract knowledge about the world. The legal system's function within New Zealand society is to stabilise behavioural expectations and maintain society's coherence and it does so by reducing the complexity of subjective human existence into binary alternatives. However, this process of reducing complexity limits the way in which the law produces its knowledge about the world and controls how power is distributed within the law's abstract world to such an extent that the legal system is closed from the world of subjective experience. This closure from the world outside the legal system limits the law's ability to regulate and reform that outside world and protect the children who live within it. By identifying these limits, this thesis will contribute to an understanding of the limits of the law's ability to protect children from maltreatment and thereby improve the effectiveness of New Zealand society's attempts to protect its children.
The University of Waikato
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