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Law and Society
Syllabus for CRMJ/SOCA 359. Fall 2007

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: August 24, 2003
Latest update: December 6, 2007

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Index of Topics on Site Syllabus for Law and Society

Susan Takata
Office: 362 MOLN
Office Hours: MWF 8:45-9:45am & by appointment
Phone: (262) 595-2116
FAX: (262) 595-2471
Class meets MWF 10-10:50 a.m.

Brief Description:

CRMJ/SOCA 359 this semester will focus on selected legal rules, principles, social institutions and social proceses treated from a variety of sociological perspectives. This course will examine the interrelationship between law and society -- legal reasoning, morality and law as well as substantive issues relating to the legal process.


  • Bellow & Minow. Law Stories.
  • Bonsignore. Before the Law.
  • Curran & Takata. The Sociology of Law Handbook . (on the Dear Habermas website).
  • Dear Habermas Website
  • (optional) Habermas, Jurgen. (1996) Between Facts and Norms.
  • (optional) Minow, Martha. (1990) Making All the Difference.


You must have:
  • a three-ring binder
  • an e-mail address (available through the university)
  • Internet access (access to PCs in microcomputing labs on campus)

Course Objectives

  • Answerability Objective: To master the concept of the aesthetic process of answerability and its role in creating an atmosphere of morality and ethics in our institutions and world systems, particularly the educational system. Outcomes: You will participate in class and online discussions respecting the answerability of every member of that community, and the aesthetic process of collaborative creation. You are expected to demonstrate active and involved learning. Written expression is as important as dialog participation and other means of expression (such as art or photography). Silence will not be acceptable, though I am willing to consider a preference for interpassivity.

  • Technological Objective: To master the simple use of any computer that happens to be available. Our assignments and readings are on the Internet. Please be sure you know how to access them and to post ot the discussions. Outcomes: You will be expected to access class materials on the Dear Habermas website and to post the online discussions.

  • Theoretical Objective: To come away from this course with a deep understanding of the role that theory plays in our lives, particularly as it relates to law and society. To use a vocabulary which permit discussion of theory: facts, norms, discretion, difference, the Other, structural violence, privileging subjectivity, unstated assumptions, relativism, tolerance of ambiguity, inequality, diversity and so forth. Outcomes: Measured by the inclusion of references in written and oral contributions to discourse. In your submissions to our discussions, you will consider the framing of the facts you cite, the illocutionary discourse in which you must engage to hear one another in good faith, and the importance of such a forum to in depth consideration of issues in criminal justice/social justice.

  • Visual Objective: To review and evaluate materials on law and society by creating a visual presentation of your learning in this course. Outcomes: You will present at least two visual projects to the class (one at midterm and the other at the end of the semester). Visual projects should reflect your competence and creativity in this course.

  • Praxis Objective: To recognize differences between theory, factual knowledge, and the application and synthesis of that knowledge in praxis. Outcomes: You will apply theoretical discussions to examples within their own institutions and lifeworlds, as they relate to law and society. Focus on conceptually linking criminological theory to current events and personal narratives shared in face-to-face and Internet discussions.

Grades and Grading

Grades can be important feedback when they are collaborative and used as feedback to guide further learning. They are harmful when they become a reified end in their own right. Because we are required by the institution to give grades, there must be a means of your letting us know what you hae learned. We expect each of you to communicate with us, so that we come to know you and your learning. Meaningful learning comes when we stretch the corners of each other's mind by looking at these concepts from multiple perspectives that come from our myriad unique experiences.

The six Cs - communication, courtesy, cooperation, consistency, competency, and creativity continue to represent our standards for evaluation. Refer to Evidence of Learning on the Dear Habermas website. Your coursework must show scholarly discipline in conceptually linking your learning to theory, policy, practice through the course readings and discussions.

Ideally, four progress checks throughout the semester are recommended (meeting with the professor every four weeks). A minimum of two progress checks with the professor is required (at midterm and at the end of the semester).

The minimum requirements for a course grade of "C" are: 1) the completion of all the weekly discussion questions, 2) participatory class attendance (not only attending but participating in class discussions), and 3) at least a "C" average in pop quiz grades (to note "do not count" on a majority of pop quizzes is below average).

Measures of Learning

  • First Half of the Semester (30%)
  • First Half Visual Project(s) (10%)
  • Second Half of the Semester (40%)
  • Second Half Visual Project(s) (20%)

    Grade Scale

    95-100 = A
    90-94 = A-
    88-89 = B+
    85-87 = B
    80-84 = B-
    78-79 = C+
    75-77 = C
    70-74 = C-
    68-69 = D+
    65-67 = D
    60-64 = D-
    59 and below = F

  • Statement on Plagiarism -- DON'T DO IT!! Give credit to those whose ideas and words you use. Cooperation and sharing in this class will earn you a better grade. Adversarialism is not a part of our teaching. We believe that learning flowers in an environment that permits mutuality to flourish.

    Students with Disabilities - Students with disabilities are encouraged meet with me as soon as possible to discuss accommodations. Accommodations should be authorized through the Disability Services Office in WYLL D175, (contact Dr. Renee Sartin-Kirby, Coordinator at 595-2610).

    Deadlines/Due Dates/Meeting Times - All due dates, meeting times, and deadlines are firm. Late assignments will not be accepted. A "no show" will result in an "F" for that particular task. The absolute final deadline for ALL course work is Friday, December 7th at 10 a.m. central time, (i.e., all creative measures must be completed!).

    Communication - It is your responsibility to communicate an emergency and other situations in a timely manner to the professor. Communicating your whereabouts is important. Don't be a field mouse.

    Groupwork: You may work in groups on any or all exercises or assignments. Cooperative learning groups are strongly encouraged. You can work with more than one group, and with different groups. All names of active group members should be recorded as indicated on the exercise material. (Refer to Cooperative Learning on the Dear Habermas site ).



    WeekTopic and Class PreparationTextual Readings
    Week 1
    Kafka's Before the Law
    B, preface, intro, & foreword
    Week 2
    Teaching and Learning
    Law and Sociology
    ** W, Sept. 12th 12 noon to 1 p.m.-- Optional Dear Habermas Workshop in the library microcomputing classroom
    B, foreword
    Week 3
    Legal ReasoningB, ch. 1.
    Week 4
    Law and Discretion B, ch. 2
    Week 5
    Theoretical Perspectives: Structural Functionalism/Law & Values B, ch. 3
    Week 6
    Theoretical Perspectives: Marxism
    Law, Status, Wealth and Power
    B, ch. 5
    Week 7
    Interactionism & Other Perspectives/Law and Popular Will
    **First Meetings - October 15-22
    B, 6 & 7
    Week 8
    Habermas/Midterm Visual Projects
    ** Wednesday, 10/24 - Midterm Visual Projects due
    **Friday, 10/26 - Last Day to Drop Course
    C&T, ch. 1 & 2
    B&M, intro, Alfieri
    Week 9
    Four Sociologies/Law Stories B&M, intro, Alfieri, Lapidus & Lynd
    Week 10
    Law Enforcement B, ch. 8, 9, & 10
    B&M, Minow
    Week 11
    Lawyers B, ch.11, 12, & 13
    B&M, Ogletree & Smith
    Week 12
    The Jury
    ** Friday, November 23rd - Thanksgiving Break - No Class
    B, ch. 14, 15 & 16
    B&M, Weaver
    Week 13
    Conflict Resolution B, ch. 18 & 19
    B&M, White & afterword
    Week 14
    Cyberspace and the Future of Law
    ** Friday, December 7th - Final Absolute Deadline (everything except visual projects)
    B, ch. 21, 22, 23 & 24
    Week 15
    Law and Society in Theory, Policy, Practice
    ** Monday, December 10th at 10 a.m. central time - Visual Projects due
    ** Friday, December 14th - Last Day of Class

    Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2003.
    "Fair use" encouraged.