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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Yuksel Sezgin
TPOL S 363
Tacoma Campus

Law in Society

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.

Class description

This class will treat the law as a process through which the rules of the game is constantly made and remade through interactions between the state and society. In other words, the course will take a diachronic view of legal institutions and norms in the making rather than a view of “the” law as a body of synchronic and pre-established norms. Against this background, students will be introduced to various ways of understanding law’s complex role in the societal and individual domains as a constitutive, regulative and coercive force. In the process, students will be asked to think critically about how law shapes and enables social and individual interactions, how law constructs difference, how law mediates power relationships, how law demarcates communal boundaries, and how law operates in the society as a means of violence, domination and control. Yet, when the law is viewed as such a powerful force both in our private and public lives, the next question that comes to mind is who the ultimate authority, which makes and implements the rules of the game in the society is. In this regard, students will be challenged to think out of the box and approach the question through lenses of legal anthropology and understand the power of culture and its relation to the law. At this point, the course will introduce the concept of legal pluralism, and encourage students to think about the question of whether human societies could function properly without formal institutions and processes of law and justice by looking at various examples of non-state normative orderings. Lastly, the wide array of empirical materials will come from a wide geographical range that includes Brazil, Uruguay, the US, Canada, Russia, India, and South Africa among many others.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


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 Yuksel Sezgin
Date: 12/12/2008