POL S/LSJ 363: LAW IN SOCIETY
M & W 2:30-3:50 ARC 147
Instructor: Professor Michael McCann; Gowen 47; firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: M & W 1-2, and by appointment
Teaching Assistants Sections
Jeffrey Grove email@example.com AC, AD
Stephanie Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org AA, AB
Julia Wejchert email@example.com AE, AF
What is law? Where do we find law? How does law matter? This class explores these fundamental questions about the roles that law plays in organizing contemporary social life. We shall consider various ways of understanding how law shapes and enables social interaction and disputing, how law constructs differences among people and their actions, and how law mediates, enforces, and at times alters hierarchical power relationships. Special attention will be given to three complex sets of relationships: 1) between legal discourse and legal practice; 2) between legal rights, social identity/status, and community; and 3) between law and violence. Our inquiries will examine official legal institutions (courts) and actors (judges, police, lawyers, etc.), but the class will emphasize how law works as a complex array of norms, symbols, discourses, and practices that infuse and shape all aspects of social life. In short, we will explore how we are all legal actors as well as legal subjects, if unequally so. Case materials will focus on the United States but also draw on comparative cross-national and global perspectives.
There are no formal prerequisites for this class, although a basic knowledge of American politics and social organization will be assumed. This is not a preparatory course for law school; the understandings that this course cultivates are shaped by distinctive social science and humanistic modes of inquiry regarding politics and power that are very different from those approaches privileged in the bulk of professional law school curricula. The goal is to encourage you to “think about law as an engaged citizen” rather than to “think like a lawyer”; we will discuss the tensions between these perspectives.
- To develop your theoretical capacities to recognize, understand, and analyze the complexities of law in social practice.
- To develop your general capacities for rigorously analytical, critical, and imaginative thought.
- To encourage your capacity to read and synthesize diverse texts.
- To improve your capacity to write effectively.
- To encourage and improve your capacities for active engagement in civic life.
The course website can be accessed in Canvas at: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1273951 The course syllabus, short readings, study questions, and other relevant materials can be found there.
Three types of texts are required for this class.
- No books are required for this course.
- All required readings (designated by an asterisk - *- on the syllabus) are available on the course website. You can print them all at once, print them each day, or read them in electronic format. But you must keep up with these readings and I require you to bring the scheduled readings, in some format, to class and section each day. Some additional short texts (e.g., timely news articles) may be emailed to you and/or added to the website during the course.
- We will discuss two movies during the class. You will be expected to watch one movie, The Central Park Five, on your own, outside of lecture class and quiz sections, by class time on 5/5; instructions will be given regarding several ways to do this. Part of another movie, Hot Coffee, will be viewed in class on 4/28. Students will be given a list of questions and themes to think about in advance of viewing these movies; engagement with these texts will be required for informed participation in class as well as for completion of the paper assignments.
In addition to the required texts, students are strongly urged to keep current with national and local events. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Christian Science Monitor are highly recommended along with local news sources. These and other resources available on the World Wide Web are also very useful and will be referenced in the class.
Course time will be split between large lecture/discussion classes (M, W) and small group discussion in TA sections (T). You are expected to have read the texts and viewed the films assigned in the schedule below for each large class meeting and to be ready to discuss the relevant materials in a knowledgeable way. Failure to keep up with readings will limit your ability to both contribute to and learn from the class interactions; it also will undermine your capacity to perform well on assignments and achieve a good grade in the course. Some of these readings are quite challenging, so be sure to allow plenty of time to give them adequate attention. Please note: Individual students will regularly be called on in class to answer or to pose questions and to offer insights about the assigned materials and related issues. You also may be asked to write one-minute “essays” in class to focus your thinking and enable me to assess the group’s engagement with or understanding of the material; these essays will not be graded but still are useful to both you and me.
The quiz sections are designed to allow opportunities for students to discuss and debate ideas from readings, lectures, and other texts in greater detail. Your Teaching Assistant will communicate in advance which texts and materials will be discussed in section. Your Teaching Assistant will work to clarify concepts, to elaborate on important points, to develop themes, and to prepare you for your essay paper assignments. Teaching Assistants may assign additional writing exercises or pop quizzes not scheduled on this master syllabus, in part to provide you incentives to keep current in your reading and thinking. We cannot require that you attend sections regularly, but you are responsible for all information conveyed in the class and all assignments or quizzes in sections.
In both the lecture class and discussion sections, you are encouraged to ask questions. Since some of the material is difficult, your questions can prove vital to your understanding as well as to productive discussions; you should not hesitate to ask for clarification or explanation.
Assignments and Grades: Percentage of Final Grade
TA Section Participation: 10%
Two Quizzes: 10% each 20%
Midterm in-class exam (4/30): 30%
Final 8 pp Essay Exam Paper (6/11): 40%
All assignments will be graded on a 4-point scale, and then multiplied by the appropriate percentage for the final grade. The mean grade for this class in the past has been between 3.1-3.2. I underline that you must earn the grade by the quality of the work that you perform. An effort has been made to provide different types of graded performance activities, which reflects our awareness that different people perform differently on different exercises. We urge you to work hard and try your best, but the truth is that students will in the end perform at widely variable levels. We will strive to be as fair as we can in evaluating your work. We also care that you are performing as well as you are capable in the class. If you are having trouble in the course, we strongly encourage you to contact us immediately, during office hours or by email, for assistance. We cannot help you if you do not request help.
Detailed instructions will be outlined in advance on the course website for each of the assignments and exams. It is your responsibility to follow the directions. Late completion of assignments and exams will be penalized by 5% each day (excluding weekends and holidays). Deadline extensions and make-up exams are only permitted in well-documented emergency situations.
Grade Appeal Procedure:
If you think that your TA has made an error in grading your exam or paper, you can request reconsideration only by the following procedure:
- Carefully read and think about the TA’s comments.
- Wait at least 24 hours, and then reread and reconsider the comments.
- If you still believe that an error has been made, submit to your TA a memo that explains clearly why you believe an error has been made. The deadline for such an appeal is one week after the work is returned to you.
- The TA will decide whether to reread your work and/or consult another TA.
- You may appeal the TA’s decision to me (Professor McCann) only after following this protocol. I very rarely change TA grading decisions, and when I do it is only for grossly unreasonable grading practices.
After you have followed the above protocols, you may appeal to the department chair.
This course requires a final comprehensive essay exam paper, and your ability to formulate and express in writing a rigorous argument will be critical to your success. Students will be given ample time to construct their final paper and are expected to produce a polished final product are that has been revised, proofread, and spell-checked. You are encouraged to talk about your writing to the TAs or to tutors in the Political Science/LSJ Writing Center. The Writing Center is located in Gowen 111 and can be accessed online at http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. The Writing Center is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 am to 2:00 pm on Friday. Appointments can be made online.
I and the TAs will endeavor to respond promptly to your emails, but actual response times will vary. You should remember that email messages are official public records at the University of Washington, so please communicate in appropriately civil, professional terms. Also, many questions about ideas and materials in the course or personal matters are far more effectively addressed in face-to-face exchanges, so use discretion in choosing the format for communication.
A successful learning experience depends on proper displays of respect for everyone in the class. As such, all cellular phones, PDAs, iPods, headphones, pagers, and other electronic devices should be turned off and put away during lectures and quiz sections. Laptop computers are permitted only for note-taking, and laptop users will sit in a special section of the room; inappropriate computer use can distract from the learning environment. Please try to arrive in class on time, avoid chatting to proximate others during class, and refrain from reading materials not assigned in the class. Disruptive behavior will adversely affect your participation grade.
We will enforce strictly the U.W. Student Conduct code, including the policy on plagiarism. See: http://www.washington.edu/cssc/for-students/student-code-of-conduct/ (Links to an external site). Moreover, much of the material presented in class raises controversial issues – about civil rights, discrimination, violence, punishment, etc. – and we will insist that civil, respectful discourse is the norm at all times. One goal of the course is to encourage sophisticated, mature analytical reflection and deliberation about violent, offensive, or unjust social realities that challenge our legal system. In that regard, this is a course in the arts of engaged citizenship.
Disability Access and Accommodations:
The University of Washington is committed to providing access, equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. For information or to request disability accommodation at UW-Seattle, contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS): 448 Schmitz Hall, 543-8924 (voice), 543-8925 (TTY), 616-8379 (Fax), firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on how to receive services from DRS is online at http://www.washington.edu/students/drs/. Students seeking accommodation in courses need to talk to their instructors at the start of the term.
Additional University and Unit policies are listed at the end of the syllabus.
SCHEDULE OF READINGS FOR LECTURE CLASS
- LEGAL DISCOURSE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF COMMUNITY
- Decentering Law: Group Mobilization of Rights and and the Politics of Social Change
What is law, and where do we find it? How can law be both real and a figment of our imagination? How does law matter as both civic myth and practical action? How does law serve both communal order and disruption of that order? What are the limits and possibilities of legal rights as a resource for promoting justice? In what ways does legal/rights advocacy most and least contribute to change? How is law different in these regards from the “rules of the game,” say in baseball or some other sport?
Franz Kafka, “Before the Law,” from The Trial*
- The Politics of Everyday Individual "Rights Claiming and Blaming" in Mass Society
How does law shape everyday social and political interaction? Specifically, how does law figure into the practices of individuals and groups disputing with each other? How does law make us into both subjects and agents? How does law construct both equality and difference? How does legal equality both challenge and support social inequality? How much do rights really matter in American society (and beyond)?
Watch and Discuss Movie: Hot Coffee
4/30 Mid-Term Celebration of Knowledge (Essay Exam in Section, 50 minutes)
- LAW AND/AS VIOLENCE
- Law and Everyday Violence: The Paradoxes of Law Enforcement
How is the violence essential to legal order different from the violence that law is supposed to contain, deter, and punish? What are the most important social and political forces that either encourage or discourage excessive or inappropriate violence by legal officials? How do legal constraints vary for treatment of domestic citizens and “others”?
Movie: Central Park Five (This should be viewed out of class, by 5/6).
Davies, “Torture Inc.: America’s Brutal Prisons” (video optional)*
"No One Feels Safe Here: Life In Alabama's Prisons." NYT, 4/29/19*
Optional: Mayer, Jane, “Outsourcing Torture,” The New Yorker, Feb. 7, 2005*
- Law's Violence and Dilemmas of Legitimacy: The Death Penalty
How is the death penalty qualitatively similar to or different from other types of state violence? What different types of questions or values can we ask about the practices of state killing, and how do they matter for the understandings and responses that we develop? What are the limits of “moral” debates about judicial executions? Why does the United States retain the death penalty when most contemporary constitutional republics have abolished it? Is this likely to change soon? Is the prohibition of capital punishment by international human rights conventions relevant to these questions? How and how much?
5/27 No Class; Memorial Day Holiday
Class Debate/Discussion of State Killing
Visit websites: http://www.balancedpolitics.org/death_penalty.htm or
Review Robert Cover, “Violence and the Word” (assigned 5/1)*
Review Colin Dayan, “Cruel and Unusual,” (assigned 5/15*)
Preparation for the Final Celebration of Knowledge
6/11 Final Celebration of Knowledge Essay Paper due
Brief Bibliography of Readings Suggested for Further Study:
Jurisprudence and Legal Theory
Barber, Sotirios, On What the Constitution Means
Bartlett, Katharine, and Rosanne Kennedy, ed., Feminist Legal Theory
Bell, Derrick, And We Are Not Saved
Carter, Lief, Reason in Law; Contemporary Constitutional Theory
Dworkin, Ronald, Taking Rights Seriously; Law’s Empire
Ely, John Hart, Democracy and Distrust
Hunt, Alan, Explorations in Law and Society
Kairys, David, ed. The Politics of Law
Karst, Kenneth, Law’s Promise, Law’s Expression
Minow, Martha, Making All the Difference
Unger, Roberto, Law in Modern Society
White, G. Edward, The American Judicial Tradition
Abraham, Henry, The Judicial Process
Baum, Larry, Courts, The Puzzle of Judicial Behavior
Clayton, Cornell, and Howard Gillman, eds., Supreme Court Decision-Making: New Institutionalist Approaches; The Supreme Court and American Politics
Epstein, Lee, ed., Contemplating Courts
Gates, John, and Charles Johnson, eds., American Courts
Glick, Henry, Courts, Politics and Justice; Courts in American Politics
McCann, Michael, and Gerald Houseman, eds., Judging the Constitution
Rosenberg, Gerald, The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?
Shapiro, Martin, Courts: A Comparative and Political Perspective
Stumpf., Harry, American Judicial Politics
Law and Everyday Disputing
Abel, Richard, ed., The Politics of Informal Justice
Auerbach, Jerold, Justice without Law?
Bumiller, Kristin, The Civil Rights Society
Engel, David, and Frank Munger, Rights of Inclusion
Engel, David, and Michael McCann, Fault Lines: The Cultural Foundations of Tort Law
Ewick, Patricia, and Susan Silbey, The Common Place of Law
Galanter, Marc, “Reading the Landscape of Disputes,” UCLA LR (1983) 31: 4-72
Greenhouse, Carol, et al., Law and Community in Three American Towns
Harrington, Christine, Shadow Justice
Law and Society Review, edition on disputing, 1980-1981
Merry, Sally, Getting Justice, Getting Even; The Possibility of Popular Justice
Yngvesson, Barbara, Virtuous Citizens, Disruptive Subjects
Williams, Patricia, The Alchemy of Race and Rights
Law and Social Control: Police and Politics of Criminal Justice
Bayley, David, Police for the Future
Beckett, Katherine, Making Crime Pay
Bittner, Egon, The Functions of Police in Modern Society
Black, Donald, Manners and Customs of Police
Paul Chevigny, Edge of the Knife: Police Violence in the Americas
Feeley, Malcolm, The Process is the Punishment
Garland, David, The Culture of Control
Herbert, Steven, Policing Space
Manning, Peter, Police Work
Muir, William Ker, Jr., Police: Streetcorner Politicians
Skogan, Wesley, Disorder and Decline
Skolnick, Jerome, Justice without Trial
Walker, Samuel, Sense and Nonsense About Crime
Scheingold, Stuart, The Politics of Law and Order; The Politics of Street Crime
Silberman, Charles, Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice
Wilson, James Q., The Varieties of Police Behavior; Thinking About Crime
Law , Discipline, and Punishment
Bedau, Hugo Adam, The Death Penalty in America
Cohen, Stanley, Visions of Social Control
Dumm, Thomas, Democracy and Punishment
Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish
Hay, Douglas, et al., Albion’s Fatal Tree
Johnson, Robert, Death Work
Kafka, Franz, “The Penal Colony”; The Trial
Lesser, Wendy, Pictures at an Execution
Sarat, Austin, ed., The Killing State
Sarat, Austin, When the State Kills
Sarat, Austin, and Thomas Kearns, eds., Law’s Violence
Simon, Jonathon, Poor Discipline
Zimring, Franklin, and Gordon Hawkins, Capital Punishment and the American Agenda
Law, Culture, and the Politics of Social Change
Bell, Derrick, Looking to the Bottom of the Well
Epstein, Lee, and Joseph Kobylka, Supreme Court and Legal Change
Ewick, Patricia, and Susan Silbey, The Common Place of Law
Glendon, Mary Ann, Abortion and Divorce in the Western World; Rights Talk
Haltom, William, & McCann, Michael, Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the
Horowitz, Morton, Courts and Social Policy
Hunt, Alan, Explorations in Law and Society
McCann, Michael, Taking Reform Seriously
McCann, Michael, Rights at Work: Pay Equity Reform and the Politics of Legal
McCann, Michael, ed. Law and Social Movements
Merry, Sally Engel, Colonizing Hawaii: The Cultural Power of Law
Rosenberg, Gerald, The Hollow Hope
Scheingold, Stuart, The Politics of Rights
Silverstein, Helena, Unleashing Rights: Law, Meaning, and Animal Liberation
Williams, Patricia, The Alchemy of Race and Rights
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS
COURSES, GRADING, ACADEMIC CONDUCT
Plagiarism is the use of other people’s ideas or words without proper citation. Misuse of source material— by failing to use quotation marks, failing to cite paraphrased sentences, or failing to acknowledge ideas that are not your own—constitutes plagiarism. If you are uncertain about the meaning of plagiarism and how to avoid it, consult with your TA, instructor, the Political Science Writing Center http://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/plag.html. Plagiarism is theft. Academic misconduct can result in dismissal from the university. For details and information about the university’s formal process for reviewing cases of plagiarism (Political Science faculty and TAs follow this process with few exceptions), see https://depts.washington.edu/grading/pdf/AcademicResponsibility.pdf
Notice: The University has a license agreement with VeriCite, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. We may use the service in this class by requiring that the final assignment is submitted electronically to be checked by VeriCite. The VeriCite Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced
To obtain an incomplete, students must have completed eight weeks of the course with satisfactory performance and furnish proof that the course cannot finish on time due to illness or extreme circumstances beyond the student’s control. More information on the university’s policy and procedures for incompletes is online at http://www.washington.edu/students/gencat/front/Grading_Sys.html.
Grade Appeal Procedure Beyond the Department Level
Once the class-specific procedures (see above) have been exhausted and a student continues to believe that grading is in error, the student may submit a written appeal to the Associate Chair of the Political Science Department within ten calendar days of discussion with the instructor. The appeal must demonstrate why the instructor’s grading was in error and should be supported by copies of all assignments that are in dispute. If the Associate Chair finds in favor of the student and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the department will follow the university’s procedure outlined at http://www.washington.edu/students/gencat/front/Grading_Sys.html. Students seeking more information about this process may contact the Political Science Department’s Director of Academic Services in SMI 215 or at 543-9456.
Concerns about a course, an instructor, or a teaching assistant
If you have concerns about a Political Science course, your instructor, or your TA, please talk to your instructor or TA about your concerns as soon as possible. If you prefer, you may also contact the Political Science Department’s Director of Academic Services in Smith 215 or at 543-9456 or the department chair in Gowen 106 or 543-2783.
UNIVERSITY POLICIES, RULES, RESOURCES
The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran in accordance with University of Washington policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. 1/6/2009
* Adapted from material prepared by the UW Department of History and used with permission
Sexual harassment is the use of one’s authority or power, either explicitly or implicitly, to coerce another into unwanted sexual relations or to punish another for his or her refusal, or as the creation by a member of the University community of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment through verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
If you believe that you are being harassed, seek help—the earlier the better. You may speak with your instructor, your teaching assistant, the Department’s Director of Academic Services (Smith 215) or the Chair of the Department (Gowen 106). In addition, you should be aware that the University has designated special staff to help you. They are: the Ombudsman for Sexual Harassment (for complaints involving faculty members and teaching assistants) 543-0283; University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (all other complaints), 616-2028.
Counseling Center: some faculty and TAs are choosing to include these resources on their syllabus or course website too:
- The Counseling Center and Hall Health are excellent resources on campus that many UW students utilize. Students may get help with study skills, career decisions, substance abuse, relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, or other concerns.
- Counseling center website (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Classroom Safety and Evacuation
The health and safety of students is of utmost importance.
- Persons with physical disabilities should alert the instructor at the start of the quarter so that appropriate safety and evacuation accommodations may be made.
- Floor plans that show evacuation routes are posted on building walls throughout campus. Evacuation routes in most University buildings lead out of the building. In some high-rise buildings the evacuation routes may lead horizontally into another wing or down a couple of floors below the source of the alarm.
- When the fire alarm sounds, students should calmly collect their belongings, exit the room, go to the nearest building exit, then proceed to the evacuation assembly point.
- When there is a power outage, students should stay seated to see if the outage is temporary and to give eyes time to adjust to the lower light level. If the outage appears to be long term, everyone should calmly collect their materials and carefully exit the building.
- If there is an earthquake, students should drop to the floor, cover their heads, and hold that position. After the shaking stops, everyone should calmly evacuate the building to the evacuation assembly point. Be careful of falling brick or other building materials knocked loose by the earthquake.
- To report an emergency:
Fire Activate Fire Alarm Pull Station and if possible Call 9-1-1
Police: Call 9-1-1
Hazardous Material Spill: Call 9-1-1
Facility or Utility Failure: Call 5-1411 or 9-1-1 in an emergency
Assembly after Evacuation
Your instructor will direct you to the building’s designated assemb