Professor Ken Nuger
Office: Clark Hall, 453
Pols 120: U. S. Law and Society
1:30-2:45 T TH
Office Hours: 10:30-12, T, TH
4:45-5:45 TH, and by appt.
Course website: http://www.sjsu.edu/people/ken.nuger/
POLITICAL SCIENCE 120: U.S. LAW AND SOCIETY
This course examines the relationship between a democratic/capitalist, multicultural society and law.
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.
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 equality.
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
Special 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 discrimination.
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
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.