The Social Organization of Law
Austin D. Sarat (Section 01)
(Offered as LJST 01 and Political Science 18 [LP].) Law in the United State is everywhere, ordering the most minute details of daily life while at the same time making life and death judgments. Our law is many things at once--majestic and ordinary, monstrous and merciful, concerned with morality yet often righteously indifferent to moral argument. Powerful and important in social life, the law remains elusive and mysterious. This power and mystery is reflected in, and made possible by, a complex bureaucratic apparatus which translates words into deeds and rhetorical gestures into social practices.
This course will examine that apparatus. It will describe how the problems and possibilities of social organization shape law as well as how the social organization of law responds to persons of different classes, races and genders. We will attend to the peculiar way the American legal system deals with human suffering--with examples ranging from the legal treatment of persons living in poverty to the treatments of victims of sexual assault. How is law organized to cope with their pain? How are the actions of persons who inflict inquiries on others defined in legal terms? Here we will examine cases on self defense and capital punishment. throughout, attention will be given to the practices of police, prosecutors, judges, and those who administer law's complex bureaucratic apparatus.
Limited to 100 students. Fall semester. Professor Sarat.
Offerings2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012