CRIM 3321: Sociology of Law

Students examine law from a sociological perspective, with particular attention to understanding major theories and empirical studies on various aspects of law and how law works in the real world, or what socio-legal scholars call "law in action." Topics include exploring law as a mode of social control, dispute resolution, social change, and how intersecting factors such as, race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, and ability shape the law and legal institutions.

Objectives

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the emergence of socio-legal research and conceptualizations of law.
  • Evaluate media reports and cultural products/images concerning legal issues.
  • Identify and apply the theoretical foundations and historical development of law.
  • Explain how contemporary legal institutions operate.
  • Analyze selected past and current research issues of the sociology of law.
  • Discuss the changing nature and functions of law at the Canadian and the global level.
  • Explain the influence of intersecting factors such as, race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, and ability on the outcome of legal institutions.

Course outline

CRIM 3321: Sociology of Law includes the following 10 modules:

1. Introduction to Sociology of Law

  • Course Overview
  • Conceptualizations of Law
  • Types of Law
  • Functions/Dysfunction of Law

2. Legal Literacy

  • Awareness of Law and its Function
  • Role of Media in Shaping Awareness

3. Theoretical Perspectives

  • The European Pioneers
  • Classical Sociological Theories
  • Socio-legal theorists
  • Contemporary Law and Society Theorists
  • Current Intellectual Movements in Law

4. The Organization of Law

  • Dispute Categories
  • The Organization of Courts
  • Participants in Court Processes
  • The Flow of Litigation
  • Sentencing in Canada

5. Lawmaking

  • Perspectives on Lawmaking
  • Sources of Impetus for Law
  • Protest Activity and Social Movements
  • The Internet and Social Movements
  • Disabilities and the Law

6. Law and Social Control

  • Informal and Formal Social Controls
  • Social Control and the Family
  • Criminal Sanctions
  • Crimes Without Victims
  • Gender and the Law

7. Law and Dispute Resolution

  • Methods of Dispute Resolution
  • Youth and the Law

8. Law and Social Change

  • Social Changes as Causes of Legal Change
  • Sexuality and the Law
  • Law as an Instrument of Social Change
  • Aboriginal Peoples and the Law

9. The Legal Profession

  • The Evolution of the Canadian Legal Profession
  • The Profession Today
  • Social Class and the Law

10. Researching Law in Society

  • Methods of Inquiry
  • The Impact of Sociology on Social Policy

Required text and materials

The following textbooks are required for this course:

Vago, S., Nelson, A., Nelson, V., & Barkan, S. E. (2018). Law and society (5th Canadian ed.). New York: Routledge.
ISBN-13: 978-1-138-21591-7
Type: Textbook

Assessments

Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Quiz 1 10%
Assignment 1: News article critique 10%
Quiz 2 10%
Assignment 2: Article critique 10%
Assignment 3: Photo essay 20%
Online postings 10%
Final Examination * 30%
Total 100%

* Mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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