POL S 363 A: Law in Society

Meeting Time: 
MW 10:00am - 11:20am
THO 101
Joint Sections: 
LSJ 363 A
Michael W. McCann

Syllabus Description:

Course Syllabus




Spring, 2020


M & W 10-11:30   THO 205

Instructor: Professor Michael McCann; Gowen 47; mwmccann@uw.edu

Office Hours: Tu 3-4  & W 11:30-12:30 , and by appointment


Teaching Assistants                                               Sections (on Fridays)                                           Office Hours 

Thomas Locke  tlocke4@uw.edu                   AA 9:30-1:20          AB 10:30-11:20

Jennifer Driscoll  driscja@uw.edu                AC 11:30-12:20    AD 12:30-1:20                MW 11:30-12:30


Course Description:                                                             

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.  

 Course Objectives:

  • 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.


Course Materials: 

The course website can be accessed in Canvas at:  https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/1370684.  The course syllabus, short readingsstudy questions, and other relevant materials can be found there.

A variety of text resources are required for this class. 

  • No books are required for this course.
  • All required readings (designated by an asterisk - *- on the syllabus) are available as links on the course website syllabus, for the designated class day. 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.
  • All Power Point Lecture Notes will be posted on the syllabus next to each lecture class date before each lecture.  A/V recordings of lectures also will be available after the lecture in the Cloud Recording  section of Canvas Zoom.
  • 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 5/4; instructions will be given regarding several ways to do this. Part of another movie, Hot Coffee, will be viewed in class on 4/29. 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.

Class Organization:

Course time will be split between large lecture/discussion classes (M, W) and small group discussion in TA sections (F).   Lectures will be delivered through Zoom and incorporate the Power Point outlines in real time at scheduled course times; lectures will be recorded and logged into Canvas along with Power Point lectures for later review.  More details about how to access Zoom will be included in Canvas announcements. 

 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: all students will regularly be called on in class to answer or to pose questions (details to follow) 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, also conducted through Zoom,  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.

Please Note About Zoom Recordings of Lectures:
This course is scheduled to run synchronously at your scheduled class time via Zoom. These Zoom class sessions will be recorded. The recording will capture the presenter’s audio, video and computer screen. Student audio and video will be recorded if they share their computer audio and video during the recorded session. The recordings will only be accessible to students enrolled in the course to review materials. These recordings will not be shared with or accessible to the public.
The University and Zoom have FERPA-compliant agreements in place to protect the security and privacy of UW Zoom accounts.  Students who do not wish to be recorded should:  Change their Zoom screen name to hide any personal identifying information such as their name or UW Net ID, and Not share their computer audio or video during their Zoom sessions.


Assignments and Grades:                                             Percentage of Final Grade

Weekly discussion assignments:                                                   20%                

Midterm essay exam (5/1):                                                                35%                

Final 8 pp Essay Exam Paper (6/8):                                               45%

Weekly discussion assignments will be graded on a simple completed/incomplete basis.  The two exam papers 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 will attempt to grade liberally amidst a very difficult context of interaction, as concerns about the virus force us to go virtual.    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; the teaching assistants are the first line of appeal, but do contact Professor McCann if necessary.   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:

  1. Carefully read and think about the TA’s comments.
  2. Wait at least 24 hours, and then reread and reconsider the comments.
  3. 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.
  4. The TA will decide whether to reread your work and/or consult another TA.
  5. 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 midterm and final comprehensive essay exam paper; 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 essay 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/ .. 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.  Consult the website for adjustments to remote communication in spring. 


Office Hours and Email Communication:

Both Professor McCann and the teaching assistants will hold regular office hours by Zoom; office hours and sessions may be extended at various times.  The professor 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. 


Classroom Manners (to the extent that we ever physically meet in a classroom, but also virtually:

A successful learning experience depends on proper displays of respect for everyone in the class.  As such, all unnecessary cellular phones, PDAs, iPods, headphones, pagers, and other electronic devices should be turned off and put away during on line lectures and quiz sections.  Please try to arrive in the zoom classes  on time, with your program muted, avoiding chatting to proximate others during class, and refraining from reading materials not assigned in the class. Disruptive behavior will adversely affect your participation grade.


Academic Conduct: 

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/ . 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. 

Notice: The University has a license agreement with VeriCite, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. Your instructor may use the service in this class by requiring that assignments are 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.


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), uwdss@u.washington.edu. 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.




3/30     Power Point Lecture #1

Introduction to Course Organization and Technology

Course Themes: What is law?  Where is law? How does it matter? 

Franz Kafka, “Before the Law,” from The Trial*

The Trial, Orson Welles film version.



A. Decentering Law "in" Society:  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?

4/1    Power Point Lecture #2

1. Law and/in Society

Obama Speech on Trayvon Martin

Video of Obama speech

2. Liberal Legality vs. Illiberal Legality

Scheingold, Stuart. Politics of Rights, pp. 3-9*

Mednicoff, David.  “Trump May Believe in the Rule of Law, Just Not the One Understood by Most (Liberal) Lawyers.”  The Conversation, June 5, 2018.


4/6     Power Point Lecture #3

Rosenberg, Gerald. “Protecting Privilege: The Historic Role of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Great Progressive Misunderstanding.”  Judicial Power Project *         

Meyer, David S., and Steven Boutcher. ‘Brown v. Board of Education and Other Social Movements.” Perspectives on Politics Vol 5: 81-93.  2007.


4/8    Power Point Lecture #4

Bell, Derrick A. "Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest Convergence Dilemma."  Harvard LR  vol 93 1980: 518-13.*

Goluboff, Risa.  "The Lost Promise of Civil Rights."  (summary of book by same name)


4/13   Power Point Lecture #5

Francis, Megan.  “The Price of Rights: Black Lives, White Funding, and Movement Capture.” Law & Society Review, Volume 53, 1 (2019): 275–309


4/15     Power Point Lecture #6

Venkatesh, Vasanthi. “Mobilizing Under ‘Illegality’: The Arizona Immigrant Rights Movement’s Engagement with the Law.” 2016 Harvard Latino Law Review 19: 165-201.

Epps, Garrett. “What Pleases Trump Has the Force of Law.”  The Atlantic.  May 19, 2019.


B. 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)? 

4/20     Power Point Lecture #7

Zemans, Frances, “Legal Mobilization: The Neglected Role of the Law in the Political System. " American Political Science Review (1983), 77 (3), p. 690-703.*

Miller, Richard, and Austin Sarat, “Grievances, Claims & Disputes: Assessing the Adversary Culture," Law & Society Review 15 (1980-81), pp. 525-566*   (abridged version here)


4/22  Power Point Lecture #8

Merry, Sally. “Rights Talk and the Experience of Law: Implementing Women’s Human Rights to Protection from Violence” Human Rights Qrtrly 25 (2003) 243-281.*


4/27   Power Point Lecture #9

Engel, David. “The Oven Bird’s Song: Insiders, Outsiders, and Personal Injury in an American Community” Law & Society Rev. 18 (4): 551-582 (1984)*


4/29   Power Point Lecture #10

McCann, Michael & William Haltom, “Java Jive: Genealogy of a Juridical Icon,” Ch. 6, Distorting the Law: Politics Media, and the Litigation Crisis*

We will watch the short video,  Woman Burned by Hot Coffee, NYTRetro, in class. Woman Burned by Hot Coffee, NYT Retro Report

You may be interested in watching the longer documentary Hot Coffee, which is based in large part on the Haltom/McCann article, although the film diverges from Professor McCann's own analytical perspective.  The UW does not stream it, so it is not required, but you can access it on Amazon. 


5/3 due date.    Mid-Term Celebration of Knowledge (Essay Exam 50 minutes)          



A. Law and/as 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 rights bearing citizens and “others”?


5/4     Power Point Lecture #11

Cover, Robert. “Violence and the Word,” 95 Yale L.J. 1601 (1986)*

Movie: Central Park Five (This documentary can be screened by hitting the link and should be viewed  by 5/6).

You may also or instead view the documentary When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay; available on Netflix.  This film focuses much more on the fates of the wrongly convicted young men, greatly "humanizing" them in the process.  It is arguably a superior film to CP5, but it is not streamed by UW and is three times as long, so I am not "requiring" it for the class.    


5/6   Power Point Lecture #12

Skolnick, Jerome, and James Fyfe, Above the Law, Chs. 1* (required) 


Muir, William der ker "The Extortionate Transaction," in Muir, Police: Streetcorner Politicians*

Noble, “Race Issue Rattles Celebrity Haven”*  NYT 1996*


5/11  Power Point Lecture #13

Skolnick, Jerome, and James Fyfe, Above the Law, Chs. 5 * (required)

Kassin, Saul M. “On the Psychology of Confessions: Does Innocence Put Innocents at Risk?  American Psychologist. April, 2005, 60(3): 215-228* (required)


5/13   Power Point Lecture #14

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow, pp. 59-96*  (required)


Seattle Obama Era DOJ Reform

Rafael Perez confession about police crimes in CRASH unit


5/18   Power Point Lecture #15

Gopnik, Adam, “The Caging of America” The New Yorker, Jan. 30, 2012* (required)

Dayan, Colin, “Cruel and Unusual”* (required) 


Most Women in Prison Dorm Have COVID-19

No Sisters Left Behind Solidarity Statement

“Louisiana’s Angola: 100 Years of Solitude”

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*                   


B. 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? 


 5/20 Power Point Lecture #16

Class Debate/Discussion of State Killing        

Genesis 4:1-26 (King James version)*

Berns, Walter. “The Morality of Anger”* Harper’s, June, 1979, pp. 15-20*

Visit websites: http://www.balancedpolitics.org/death_penalty.htm      or



Opinion Pollshttps://news.gallup.com/poll/178799/americans-eye-eye-top-reason-death-penalty.aspx 

governor issues moratorium on DP 


5/25     No Class: Memorial Day Holiday


5/27 Power Point Lecture #17

McCann, Michael, and David Johnson, “Wrecked but Still Rolling”*

Furman v. Ga. (1972); Gregg v. Ga. (1976)*

Troy Davis video


6/1 Power Point Lecture #18

McCleskey v. Kemp (1987), Callins v. Collins (1994)* (required)

Sarat, Austin.  “The Role of the Jury in the Killing State,” in Sarat, ed., When the State Kills* (required)


Washington State Court Ends Death Penalty, 2018

Oppel, Richard A.  “Not Just Rodney Reed: New Evidence Taints More Death Row  Convictions.” NYT November, 19, 2019.


6/3 Power Point Lecture #19

Gonnerman, Jennifer.  "Home Free." The New Yorker, June, 2016

“Racism in Texas Death Case,” NYT, May, 2013*

Review in the last days;            

Review Robert Cover, “Violence and the Word” (assigned 4/29)*

Review Colin Dayan, “Cruel and Unusual,” (assigned 5/13)*

Preparation for the Final Celebration of Knowledge


Sarat, Austin. “The Rhetoric of Race in the ‘New Abolitionism,’” ch. 8 in Ogletree and Sarat,  eds. From Lynching Mobs to the Killing State*


6/8   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 LawContemporary 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


Judicial Institutions

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 JusticeCourts 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

            Litigation Crisis

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






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.



 Equal Opportunity

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

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.

Religious Accommodations

“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/).”

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.


 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


Catalog Description: 
Inquiry into how law matters in social practice. Examines general theories of law, the workings of legal institutions, and the character of legally constituted practices and relationships in diverse terrains of social life. Offered: jointly with LSJ 363.
Department Requirements: 
American Politics Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
February 12, 2020 - 9:05pm