SOC324 : Law and Society
This course is designed to expose students to the theoretical frameworks from sociology that are used to examine how the law shapes society and society shapes the law. We will begin by reading and discussing how various theoretical traditions understood the role of law in society, whose interests they saw the law serving, and the law’s role in societal transformation. We will apply these theoretical perspectives to current legal issues and policies. The approach we will take to studying the law will emphasize the social, political, cultural and historical aspects of the law, rather than studying the law through legal doctrines, statutes or judicial opinions (though at times these aspects of the law will be raised). From this vantage point, this course will enable students to understand how the law influences and is influenced by social change, social reproduction and inequality (including race, class, gender, and sexuality). We will also analyze the role of law in contemporary legal issues related to these topics in order to understand and evaluate how the law seeks to achieve certain objectives such as compliance, deterrence and social control. Finally, as many students may have an interest in pursuing a legal career, we will examine how the legal profession and the field of law have changed over time and the enduring hierarchies and divisions that have remained.