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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael W Mc Cann
POL S 561
Seattle Campus

Law and Politics

Points and levels at which law and politics intersect. What is distinctive about legal forms; how these legal forms influence, and are influenced by, politics. Conceptions of law, courts and public policy, law and bureaucracy, civil and criminal justice, and the legal profession.

Class description

Description: This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the interdisciplinary body of theory and research now known as “law and society studies.” The syllabus is organized around core themes in the law and society tradition – the roles of courts and other legal institutions; individual and group disputing processes; colonial and post-colonial legacies for social ordering and disputing; the interlocking institutional and discursive mechanisms of social control, especially, through criminalization; and comparative legal traditions. An effort is made in the syllabus to provide some sense of historical development and analytical variation by including readings from both realist and post-realist/cultural approaches to these themes in alternating weeks.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This course serves two primary curricular roles for students. On the one hand, it introduces political science students to important readings in the public law field that are not covered in our other courses, and which rarely are covered in U.S. political science departments elsewhere. This is one of five highly recommended courses that satisfy the basic requirements. On the other hand, this course serves students in all the social science disciplines an elective course in the LSJ/CLASS interdisciplinary certificate program.

Recommended preparation

Texts: Required readings include the following books: Sally Engle Merry, Human Rights and Gender Violence; Robert A. Kagan, Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law; Kitty Calavita, Immigrants at the Margins; Sally Engle Merry, Colonizing Hawaii: The Cultural Power of Law; Martin Shapiro, Courts: A Comparative and Political Analysis; Michael McCann, Rights at Work; John Gilliom, Overseers of the Poor; and Jonathan Simon, Poor Discipline. A small packet of copied articles and essays will be required as well. Each student will be expected to write a short (3 pp) paper about one of the week’s reading to focus class discussion and one seminar paper on a topic to be negotiated individually with the instructor.

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 Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 02/19/2009