CRIM 325. Law & Society

Examines creation and maintenance of systems of law and social control. Focus on courts, surveillance, policing, informal and formal mechanisms of social control impacting individuals to societies. Writing intensive course. [Prereq: CRIM 225 or CRIM 225S and junior standing or greater.]

Law and Society represents a rich area of study, drawing on a diverse array of academic disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, philosophy, economics, cultural studies and political science. This course will provide a broad overview of the field’s central questions, including: what meanings attached to law circulate in social relations, how does law sustain its institutional power, how is the law interpreted and experienced by specific individuals, how do social relations constitute the law and alternatively how does the law constitute social relations? We will explore these questions through the theme of religion, race and rights. These themes will ground our exploration in a number of ways. They will ground our investigation of the historical emergence of Anglo-American law and modernity. We will also consider surveillance, social control, the relationship between the law and space, as well as law enforcement. A central focus of this course is to develop our ability to engage in critique, which involves “examining the underlying assumptions that might allow something to appear as a convincing logic”. We will hone your skills for engaging in critique through oral presentation, scholarly dialogue, and written prose. This course is a writing intensive course. Given this, assignments will primarily consist of papers and we will spend a substantial amount of class time discussing writing technique, developing your personal writing process, and peer reviewing one another’s work. Students will be exposed to a variety of approaches for studying the nexus between law and society in this course. However, we will primarily take a constitutive approach to law. That is, we will seek to unearth law’s social and cultural meanings, as well as its broad, complex and unintended consequences.


Darian-Smith, Eve. 2010. Religion, Race, Rights: Landmarks in the History of Modern Anglo-American Law. Oxford: Hart Publishing.
Calavita, Kitty. 2010. Invitation to Law & Society: An Introduction to the Study of Real Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ewick, Patricia and Susan S Silbey. 1999. Common knowledge and ideological critique: The significance of knowing that the" haves" come out ahead. Law and Society Review 1025-1041.

Eve Darian-Smith, Religion, Race, and Rights
Jung, M., Vargas, J., Bonilla-Silva, E., & Costa Vargas, J. (2011). State of white supremacy: Racism, governance, and the United States (Heritage, Tourism & Community). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Calavita, Kitty, Invitation to Law & Society: An Introduction to the Study of Real Law

Jung, Moon-Kie, Joao H. Costa, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States