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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Chulwoo Lee
LAW B 591
Seattle Campus

Law and Society in Asia

Class description

The course aims at familiarizing students with some of the major issues in law and society studies with reference to various sociolegal realities in Asia. It begins with emphasizing the social-scientific nature of law and society studies, and proceeds to examine differing perspectives in the discipline and the issues to which those perspectives sensitize us, such as state law v. non-state norms and law as system v. law as process. These basic theoretical discussions will be followed by inquiry into a number of themes selected from among Asian experiences. Among the covered themes are law and Confucianism, legal culture seen through disputing behavior, legal changes and various contexts of diffusion of law including colonialism, the role of law in East Asian economic development, tension between the rule of law and reliance on personal relations, the politics of law in authoritarian government and democratization, the political and socioeconomic landscape of the legal profession, the impacts of globalization on national sovereignty, legal regimes governing transnational population movement, and sociolegal changes after the Asian financial crisis and in the 21st century. The inquiry goes beyond providing descriptive accounts of Asian legal institutions and discussing the normativity of legal changes. It involves theorizing efforts, purporting to examine classical and latest theories in sociolegal studies using Asian cases as examples. Many of the realities that the course focuses on relate to East Asia, but Southeast Asian cases will also be discussed.

Student learning goals

Students are expected to have understood the social-scientific nature of law and society studies and to have knowledge of fundamental methodological issues in social science;

to be able to observe legal rules and processes in broader societal contexts;

to be familiar with major theoretical issues in law and society studies;

to have discussed themes of importance in the study of law and society in Asia;

to have developed or be able to develop a perspective on the relationships between democracy, rule of law, and economic development;

to have been sensitized to the various sides of globalization and its implcations in law.

General method of instruction

Expecting that all students have read the reading materials for each session, the instructor will lead discussion by raising key questions and offer explanations on major theoretical issues involved.

Four topics (for literature review) have been selected and allocated to eight sessions (two sessions for one topic). The students who have signed up for each of the topics will present brief outlines of the issues they identified from the reading materials and a roundtable discussion will follow.

Recommended preparation

No prior knowledge of, or experience of studying, Asian law or Asian studies is needed.

Class assignments and grading

Students are expected to have read the required reading materials for each selected topic before each session. It will be enough, however, to read a minimum of five pieces among the materials selected for Review and Discussion, except when the materials for the topic that the student has chosen for review.

The course encourages active classroom participation.

Each student must choose one of the four topics marked for Review and Discussion i) the reception, transplantation, imposition, and diffusion of law; ii) explaining legal culture in Japan; iii) rule of law v. rule of relationships in Asian development; and iv) globalization and the latest sociolegal changes in Asia (see Topics and Readings below).

The students who have signed up for each of the four topics will present brief reviews of the existing studies on the topic that have been selected and listed on the syllabus. The presentations will take place in the first of the two sessions allocated to the topic. The students working on the same topic are advised to cooperate in reviewing and presentations; they may equitably distribute between themselves the pieces to be reviewed.

Each student is required to submit by the end of the quarter a paper reviewing all of the selected reading materials for the topic s/he has chosen. S/he may expand his/her review to other relevant studies and refer to various materials in describing and explaining realities related to the theme. The paper is expected to be of 5,000 words or more in length. The deadline for submission will be announced in due course.

There will be no written final exam.

Attendance 10% Classroom participation 20% Presentation of review 20% Full review paper 50%


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.
Last Update by Chulwoo Lee
Date: 12/26/2010