In Sociology 464 we will embark on a journey to explore law’s presence in modern life. Our adventure will take us through a world of contradictions that lies in the gap between law’s rational procedures and ideals of equality, on the one hand, and how law is lived, applied, and functions in social contexts of inequality, on the other hand. Though our point of departure will at first seem familiar--the formal organizations, actors, practices, and ideologies which we typically associate with law--our sociological vantage point will lead us to look at these anew. How does the social organization of law ensure that the ‘haves’ will come out ahead, yet law manage to retain its public legitimacy as a practice of equality and justice? In the second half of our expedition, we shall walk through the looking glass to reflect on the ways in which the proliferation of law shapes everyday life, often in ways that are at first invisible. We shall adopt as our motto "The Law is All Over" as we explore the presence, politics, cultural power, and limitations of law.
In Sociology 406A, we study genocide as an emerging area of concern for criminologists and sociologists of law. In Part One, we shall ask what resources criminologists have to make sense of genocide and mass violence, and consider what we can learn from studies outside of our field. Over several weeks, we will explore the context and experience of victims, structural conditions that provide conditions of gencode, vocabularies and ideologies that isolate and dehumanize victims and normalize killing for the perpetrators, and theories about bystanders, who know about atrocity but fail to prevent it from occurring.
In Part Two, we’ll turn our attention to organized responses to mass violence, asking what these activities teach us about the power and limits of law, the meaning of justice, approaches and strategies of social control, and the possibilities for the healing and prevention of future occurrences. Starting with the trials of the Holocaust, we’ll study how intellectuals confronted the logic of the Nazi death camps and their implications for our understanding of humanity, considerations of German guilt and world complicity, the limitations of law as a vehicle for dispensing justice and reconstructing meaning, and the development of the legal category of “crimes against humanity.” We'll then turn to consider the development of the International Criminal Tribunal as a social movement. Finally, we’ll consider responses that attempt to transform or replace traditional legal approaches, such as truth commissions and grassroots transnational women’s movements that attempt to transform conflict based on national identity with gendered solidarity. The course will conclude by our reading a major new study on how criminology can be used to understand the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The events we shall be discussing are chilling, horrific, and difficult to confront, but our consistent emphasis will be on the ways in which those who lived them have passed through, attempting to rebuild their lives and reconstruct meaning without forgetting, or repeating, the past.
Sociology 603 is the core graduate level seminar in criminology and deviance. Using a sociological perspective, we will explore the varied ways in which Western scientists approach crime, law, and deviance, and how their theories and findings are influenced and employed by other actors. The course is designed to give you a rich understanding of criminology and to provide a solid foundation for your M.A. comprehensive examinations or thesis work in the areas of crime, law, and justice. By the quarter’s end, we will have explored:
- The central theories scientists have developed to understand criminal and deviant behaviors and the social response to crime;
- What different methodological approaches and data sources tell us about the distribution of crime and deviance in the U.S., and how to use and evaluate these different sources;
- How scientific understandings about crime and deviance are inherently bound up with other cultural, organizational, social, and political practices;
- The significant ethical challenges and responsibilities of engaging in a science whose products have such weighty implications for the lives of real individuals.
The course is organized chronologically, tracing the historical development of scientific ideas about crime, law, and deviance since the eighteenth century, but our feet will always be in the present: exploring how these theories continue to inspire and animate contemporary discussions and investigations, and ways in which cutting-edge theoretical approaches to gender, race, class, and culture might add to and enrich these understandings.