Course Details

Law and Society

Law is a common and yet distinct element of daily life in modern societies, and not only shapes society but is also shaped by society. The creation, interpretation, and enforcement of laws occur in the context of historical changes, societal norms, and the subjective concerns and whims of those charged with its creation. Utilizing a sociological perspective, the course will explore the nature of law as a set of social systems comprised of multiple actors that interact. After introducing students to socio-legal perspectives and theoretical models of law, the class will investigate topics of contemporary concern. Examples of contemporary topics may include: (1) the debate over the citation of foreign and international legal authorities in state and federal courts, (2) Fisher v. Texas, and arguments about race-based affirmative action in higher education, (3) Perry v. Schwarzenegger, and debates concerning same-sex marriage, and whether gays and lesbians should adopt children, (4) the changing role of institutional legal actors, i.e., lawyers, courts, & juries, and (5) the role of law in the production of social change. By the end of the course, students should be better able to evaluate law and legal institutions as social constructs, criticize the social science data presented to legal institutions, and understand the ways in which law and legal institutions operate to construct meaning in society. While the class largely focuses on law in an American context, we will also examine comparative and international contexts. A substantial paper on a significant legal topic or issue will be required. Every student will be expected to write a paper and conduct a one-hour discussion of his or her topic during the seminar. Students are required to write a research paper (60%), write and present a one-page critique of a fellow student¿s research draft (10%), participate in class (10%), and write five, two- page critical reviews of readings (20%). No prior training in statistical methods or in the social sciences is expected. Texts: Readings will consist of a set of readings compiled by the instructor and Gerald Rosenberg's The Hollow Hope. Prerequisites: None.

Catalog Number: CONPUB 667
Additional Course Information: Consult Professor about writing requirements,  Perspective Elective

Course History

Fall 2021
Title: Colloquium: Law and Society
Faculty: Rountree, Meredith Martin (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 21