Bidirectional Legal Socialization and the Boundaries of Law: The Case of Enclave Communities Compliance with COVID-19 Regulations

COVID-19 has challenged people worldwide to comply with meticulous healthcare instructions. Can states harness enclave communities to comply with the law in such crucial times, even when compliance conflicts with communal norms? We investigated this question through the case of Israeli ultra-Orthodox schools compliance with COVID-19 regulations. Drawing on interviews with school principals, media analysis, and a field survey, we found that the state has the capacity to harness the cooperation of previously suspicious communities. At the same time, communal authorities were able to shield widespread defiance from legal enforcement. These findings expose the bidirectionality of legal socialization: As the community uses defiance to attenuate the law, it socializes public authorities to accede to their bounded authority. As the authorities realize that the community cannot be brought to full compliance, they curtail enforcement and socialize the community to operate outside the law.