Sociology | Law and Society
S326 | 25755 | Michelson

S326/25755  9:30-10:45AM  TR in BH204

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
many of you may be considering 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.