soc114 barlow sp20.pdf - Sociology 114 UC Berkeley Spring...

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Sociology 114 Andrew Barlow UC Berkeley 460 Barrows Spring 2020 Office Hours: TTH 3:30-5:00 [email protected] Sign up for office hours here Readers: Ifejesu Ogunleye [email protected] Shalita Williams: [email protected] The Sociology of Law The sociology of law studies law and legal institutions as social relationships. This course inquires into the ways ‘legality’ is constituted by a wide range of political, economic and cultural practices, and in turn the ways in which law is constitutive of social life in general. Everyday life both creates and incorporates legal meanings and practices. This course examines the ways that legal meanings and practices appear in conceptions of society, community and the individual. This course also examines the special role of legal professionals in the creation of legal meanings, and the social impacts of their practices. Understanding the role of law in society is particularly important at a time of an unprecedented attack on democratic institutions, in which the current Administration openly threatens to ignore or dismantle established law and legal structures. The extent to which the ‘rule of law’ can withstand the current political regime may well determine the future of democracy in the United States. But what is the ‘rule of law’ and what makes ‘the law’ powerful? The sociological approach to these questions suggests that the power of legality depends on the ways in which different social groups engage with the law. As the history of the last hundred years has shown, engagement with legality is necessary for all serious efforts for social justice in modern societies. But, if not informed by an accurate understanding of social dynamics, engagement with law can also subvert such efforts. This course provides students with the opportunity to engage in in-depth inquiry into the uses of law both for domination and for social change with an extended examination of racism and civil rights law in the United States.

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