Sociology | Law & Society
S326 | 22362 | Michelson


Is there too much or not enough litigation in this country?  Do
lawyers improve or impair access to justice?  Are minorities and
whites equal before the law?  Do the careers of lawyers differ by
gender and race?  These are among the questions we will address and
debate in this class.  Perhaps of greatest interest to you – because
so many of you are considering going to law school – is the law school
experience and the question of whether affirmative action improves or
damages opportunities for minorities.  The sociology of law has been
succinctly defined as “everything about law except the rules.”  Taking
the spirit of this definition to heart, we will privilege the “law in
action” over the “law on the books.”  In our exploration of the courts
and the legal profession, we will pay close attention to social
relationships and social institutions.  As we examine the disputing
process and access to justice (including alternatives to law), we will
pay close attention to power and inequality.  Finally, when we study
legal culture, legal consciousness, and popular portrayals of law
(images of law in TV and film, for example), we will consider both the
way the legal process is shaped by culture (social norms defining the
meaning of right and wrong, for example) and the way culture is shaped
by the legal process.