Professor Ken Nuger
Office: Clark Hall, 453
Pols 120: U. S. Law and Society
Clark Hall #303
Office Hours: after class
Course website: http://www.sjsu.edu/people/ken.nuger/courses/c6/
POLITICAL SCIENCE 120: U.S. LAW AND SOCIETY
This course examines the relationship between a democratic/capitalist, multicultural society and
It integrates issues of justice, equality, liberty and political obligation with principles of
democracy and capitalism to demonstrate how law and politics affect different socioeconomic
groups in U.S. society.
The course analyzes the effects of the growing chasm between the rich
and poor and how political, economic, demographic and technological trends will affect different
groups in the U.S.
The course will compare elite and pluralistic theories of political participation
and demonstrate how each theory may enhance or reduce social, political, legal and economic
The course will emphasize how law is used to foster economic and social bias and how
law could be utilized to foster a just, multicultural legal, social and economic structure.
attention is given to patterns of discrimination endemic in the United States and how law and
policy can be shaped to alleviate patterns of discrimination based on but not limited to race, class,
ethnicity, gender religion, age and sexual orientation.
STUDENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES
Students taking this course will better understand how social, historical and legal trends in U.S.
society either foster or hinder equality in the United States.
Students should understand how the
following aspects of American society affect equality:
By studying concepts such as equality, freedom, justice, political obligation due process and
equal protection, students will be able to understand how these basic ideological concepts can
frame legislation that fosters more equal opportunity and less discrimination based on race,
gender, class, sexual orientation, age or disability.
By studying major historical and legal trends of the 19
century, students will be able
to understand how unjust social, economic and legal policies can be aimed at minority,
disadvantaged and unpopular groups, condemning them to patterns of inequality and
For example, students will become familiar with how labor laws, voting laws and
criminal justice policies can reduce equal opportunity and access of these targeted groups to the
political and economic structures in the United States.
Students will understand how government
recruitment tends to favor elite groups and how, therefore, majoritarian democracy may
unjustifiably be skewed against minority (broadly defined) rights.