INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINOLOGY, LAW AND SOCIETY (C7)
Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-1:50
Professor Kitty Calavita
Professor Carroll Seron
Room 2379, SE II
Room 2373, SE II
Office hours: Wed., 2-3:30,
Office hours: Monday, 2:00-3:00,
And by appointment
and by appointment.
Office phone: 949 824 7610
Office phone: 949 824 6279
. This course will familiarize you with the study of criminology, law and
society. The course introduces you to three interdisciplinary literatures: criminology,
socioloegal studies, and the study of the criminal justice system. By the end of the course,
you should be able to think about law, crime, and the legal system in a theoretical, data-
driven way. The guiding theme of this course is that there is a descriptive level of
understanding crime and the legal system, and there is an explanatory, theoretical level.
Relatedly, there are conventional and/or surface explanations of how things work and a more
critical or sociological understanding.
In the American political system, Congress is delegated the task of making law through
Article I of the U.S. Constitution.
The courts, discussed in Article III of the U.S.
Constitution, are given the task of interpreting the law, though some would argue that the
U.S. Supreme Court has a lawmaking role as well. Administrators and bureaucrats are
delegated authority to make, interpret and enforce rules affecting many aspects of
contemporary society, from food and drug safety to banking and the environment. And, a
variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies comprise the criminal justice
system. Our first goal in this course is to describe these legal institutions, including how a bill
becomes a law, how appellate courts interpret the law and in the process make law, how
administrative agencies exercise their authority, and how the criminal justice system works.
Our second goal is to explain the workings of these political institutions through a
sociological lens by asking whether and to what extent race, gender, economics and other
such forces in American society affect lawmaking at an institutional level—and, on the
Our third goal is to combine description with explanation to develop a reflective and critical
understanding of crime, law, and society.
We will explore this goal through three broad
themes: lawmaking, lawbreaking and the justice system. In addition, we will take a brief look
at the role of the mass media in social perceptions of crime and law. Here are some of the
questions we will be asking: