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Lecture #3 - Sept 24.doc

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Zachary Levinsky

SOC216 Sept 24 th Lecture #3 Lawmaking Where is Sociology’s Place - Durkheim, Weber, and Marx - is sociology a science? o is it about revealing cause and effects?  kind of make it objective by legitimizing what they say o neutrality and objectivity  make it an equation to talk about social relations and understand social relations  in some ways mirrors Law’s claim to this – law strives to be neutral and objective, but doesn’t always do this. We consider it legitimate even though it does illegitimate things - is it dialectical o should there be some critical take on these processes?  is it just about describing? Or when you are in the process of doing sociology, should you be engaging in critique as well? - praxis o combining theory with action o struggle for social justice  more to play than just a neutral observer Ever Present Dichotomies - Natural Law vs. Legal Positivism o Some philosopher’s think that law comes from some higher power like God or religious Deity, something beyond ‘us’ – natural law o Legal philosophers say that law is human made, developed by us o So where does law come from? Man made or beyond man? - Conflict vs. consensus o Conflict is more philosophical take o Consensus is more sociological – what is the purpose of the law, why do we obey law, why do we have laws, what does law reveal about society - Law in action vs. law on the books o Is it about what the law says or what it actually does? o Gap between law in action and law in books Why Study Law and Film? - Sarat o (1) Powerful and everywhere  Law is powerful and it is everywhere  It is independent of legal institutions – it is pervasive o (2) Can ask ‘what might-be’ questions  We can create shows about different situations, what ought to be in these worlds, etc. o (3) Everyday people can learn lessons from watching film  This is how we understand law – they come from media, and we can use it as a teaching tool Law and Film Relationship - Can study three things: o Law in film (literature)  What is inaccurate about the images you are seeing? What is wrong with the portrayal of law? • Wire versus earlier shows depicting law. Wire shows how cops are people too, they don’t always catch their guy easily like earlier shows may portray  Corrective criticism • Tv shows overestimates violent crimes • It is not the nature of police work in general o Film as Law  Law AS literature  Use literary tools to study legal texts – may see an interdisciplinary approach in the shows, and see multiple aspects of law being involved o Law and Film as Narratives  Parallel narrative structure – creates a story to follow, of how we understand how things work o Cinema advertises entertainment  Masks money making purpose – tv advertises entertainment, and masks its money making o CJS advertises justice  Masks keeping status quo  It claims it engaged in justice – we think law is fair but it masks what is really going on o How law is like the film in constructing truth? CSI effect - (1) Indicative of a real crime laboratory o General public is just passive and stupid, that they are not enlightened, so people think it is indicative of real crime lab o Crime labs are actually very under funded - (2) Crime can be solved that quickly o Test results can come quickly and doesn’t take long process - (3) Science is sexy o Cool things going on - (4) Prosecution: no conviction unless loads of forensic o Prosecution says we don’t have enough forensic evidence to get criminals prosecuted, so people who are guilty are getting acquitted because there isn’t enough forensic evidence - (5) Defence: makes forensic seem more certain o Assume we just need forensic evidence and one expert and jurors will easily be convinced o But its not that easy, forensic isn’t always conclusive - All understudied empirically Research on CSI - (1) Over-exaggerate violent crimes o Because of shows like this we think violent crimes are more prevalent, and stranger violent crimes instead of people we know - (2) Science as coherent and unified o Science in CSI we think is coherent and unified which isn’t true - (3) Forensic science as ‘Truth’ o Somehow the evidence will help reveal truth by doing forensic science - (4) Conflates detectives and lab work o Real CSI probably don’t go to crime scenes with guns, they are in their labs spinning DNA samples, etc. Methodologies and Issues - Historical o Dealing with primary documents, ones that existed outside of secondary sources (like journal articles) o Primary source is the law that was created at particular time, or report, or diary entry o Issues: biases when people wrote these documents, taking these documents are face value. They are documents of their time, account of that time o Does the historical take that document at face value or as a product of its time? o Researcher is relying on what white people thought about Aboriginals, rather than thinking what Aboriginals thought o Problem with what type of documents are available o The written word is already biased at that time period o Accuracy and validity is an issue - Observational methods o Watching something unfold o Often linked to anthropological research o Are we really objective? o Presence of observer may change the behaviour being observed o Too many variables that interact at once – how do you single out variables o It is also objectifying – some primitive group of people that need to be studied, power dynamic and asserting power over these groups by suggesting they are primitive and need to be studied as they are not as civilized is us - Experimental methods o Hard to experiment on large groups of people o Hard to do two groups randomly assigned o Hard to generalize to other things, its very specific o Some experiments can be harmful, there is a code of ethics now o Some of the earlier experiments such as the prison experiment, you wouldn’t be able to do now - Survey methods o Not that generalizable either o How do you unpack the data o Writing graphs and drawing graphs, and also qualitative responses o Samples are usually marginalized – which is tough to get access to these groups, they are rightly protected (like juvenile offenders or prisoners) o Tougher to do these types of studies because institutions place barriers to access these places – defensive mentality o How different theorists follow different methods – theories and methodologies are linked 4 Models of Law-making - Rationalistic model o Different ways laws get made o Protecting people from harm – law against murder o Seems overly simplistic o And deferential to those in authority – they know what they are doing, they know what is good for us o Project this
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