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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael W Mc Cann
POL S 562
Seattle Campus

Law, Politics, and Social Control

Explores works of social scientists and lawyers regarding these competing conceptions of social control: as the seamy side of law - reinforcing equitable patterns of domination and disciplining deviants; as law embodying society's basic values, articulating minimum rules for harmonious social interaction.

Class description

Description. This is the companion course to Law and Social Movements (Political Science 564). In that course, the focus is on law as an agent of resistance, challenge, and transformation. In this course, we look at the more fundamental social control side of the law. There is an intellectually well-founded temptation to think about social control as the seamy side of the law--reinforcing inequitable patterns of domination and disciplining deviance. But social control also has more affirmative intellectual roots. According to this way of thinking, law embodies the society's basic values, articulates the minimum rules required for harmonious social interaction, and mobilizes and directs resources for collective problem solving.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Our objective is to explore these competing conceptions of law, politics, and social control with particular reference to emerging bodies of theoretical and empirical work by social scientists and lawyers. These relatively new literatures are suggestive and insightful (thus offering opportunities for learning) but also inchoate (thus providing intriguing research opportunities). Our primary case focus will be on liberal western polities, but the theoretical inquiry should be of generalizable relevance.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Texts include: Nikolas Rose, Powers of Freedom; Jacques Donzelot, The Policing of Families; Ronen Shamir, Managing Legal Uncertainty: Elite Lawyers in the New Deal; Philip Klinkner and Rogers Smith, The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equaliy in America; John Gilliom, Surveillance, Privacy and the Law: Employee Drug Testing and the Politics of Social Control; Jonathan Simon,. Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990; David Garland, The Culture of Control.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 11/12/2002