University of Toronto Mississauga – Sociology
Law and Society
Monday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Wednesdays 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Instructor: Dr. Nicole Myers
Office location: DV room #3246
Office Phone #: 905-569-4473
Email address:[email protected]
Office hours: Mondays 3:15 to 4:15 and Tuesdays, 12:30pm-1:30pm
Blackboard/Course web site: Portal
Zach Levinsky [email protected]
This course asks students to think critically about the role of law in society. The course
encourages students to reflect critically on the complexities of Canadian law, and, in particular,
on how legal processes both influence and are shaped by social, political, and economic
relations. This course is designed to advance students’ knowledge of the complexity of law, its
methods, and its theoretical debates by focusing on two main themes: the culture of rights and
the regulation of morality. The course is divided into two sections. Part One will focus on
classical and contemporary socio-legal theories. Part Two will review the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and examine recent Supreme Court cases. A main objective of the course
is to teach students how to draw on theoretical frameworks to analyze contemporary socio-legal
debates. A range of topics are discussed, including the regulation of abortion, prostitution,
drugs, obscenity, gay rights, homelessness and HIV non-disclosure.
Students are expected to read the required material in advance of lecture and be prepared to
actively participate in class discussions. In order to enhance classroom participation, discussion
questions are included with the weekly readings.
Prerequisites, Exclusions, CSL Group
Prerequisites: SOC100H5, 209H5
Textbooks and Other Materials
Course pack- available in the bookstore.
1 Evaluation Components and Grading Policies
Mid-term Test (in class) 35% 22 May 2013
Critical Research Paper 40% 10 June 2013
Final Test (in class) 25% 17 June 2013
There is one in-class midterm comprising 35% of your final grade, and a final test comprising
25%. These will cover the assigned readings and all class materials (lectures, in-class discussions
and films) for the designated sections of the course.
The critical research paper instructions are posted on Blackboard. This paper is worth 40% of
your grade. You are advised to start early. You are strongly encouraged to meet with me during
office hours to discuss your paper.
As of the first day of class you have been made aware of the due date and the assignment
instructions. This is more than enough time to complete this assignment; please manage your
**Grades will not be posted on Blackboard, you must come to class and pick up your
Attendance is strongly advised and students are responsible for ALL material presented in class.
Students who are unable to attend class on a given day are responsible for obtaining from their
classmates notes on all material covered, as well as information regarding any announcements
made in class.
2 Course Schedule
May 6 Morality, Rights Talk and Law
Ignatieff, M. (2000). Democracy and the rights revolution. The Rights
Revolution. Toronto: House of Anansi Press.
Asper, D. (2 June 2007). Pushing natives beyond the breaking point.
Justice denied. (11 November 2008). Globe and Mail.
What is the sociology of law? How does it differ from other approaches to law?
May 8 Classical Legal Theory
(Natural Law, Legal Positivism, Legal Realism) and the Sociology of Law
(Durkheim, Marx, Weber)
Vago, S. and Nelson, A. (2004). Theoretical perspectives, in Law and
Society. Toronto: Pearson.
King, M. Letter from Birmingham Jail, in Adams, D (ed.)(2000).
Philosophical Problems in the Law, 3 ed. Australia: Wadsworth.
‘Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer, dead at 92’. (24 October 2005). The
Globe and Mail.
How do the different perspectives explain the social development of law and the
relationship between society and law?
How do the different theoretical frameworks account for our current laws on
euthanasia and same sex marriage?
May 13 Contemporary Legal Theory
(Feminist jurisprudence, Postmodernism, Critical Legal and Critical Race)
Neallani, S. Women of Colour in the legal profession: Facing the familiar
barriers of race and sex’, in Dawson, T. (ed.) (2003). Women, Law and
Social Change: Core Readings and Current Issues. Toronto: Captus Press.
Gomez, L. (2004). A tale of two genres: On the real and ideal links
between Law and Society and Critical Race Theory in Sarat, A. (ed).
(2004). The Blackwell Companion to Law and Society.
3 Marlow, I. (19 July 2007). Judge’s gender, political ties influence rulings.
Tyler, T. (2007). First woman on Supreme Court. Toronto Star.
What contributions have contemporary theories made to our understanding of law
How do the different perspectives theorize the concept of rights?
May 15 The Charter and Constitutional Rights
Boyd, N. (2002). The Constitution of Canada: The British North American
Act, 1867, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the future of federalism, in
Canadian Law: An Introduction. Toronto: Harcourt Brace.
Sallot, J. (11 August 2003). Public against judges making laws, poll says.
The Globe and Mail.
Huscroft, G. (19 April 2012). Yes. The Charter of Rights has given
judges too much power. The Globe and Mail
Dodek, A. (18 April 2012). No, the Charter of Rights has not given
judges too much power. The Globe and Mail.
What has been the impact of the Charter on our culture of rights?
What does it mean to be treated equally under the law? What are the implications
of treating citizens exactly the same? What is the difference between formal and
Does the Charter shift power from the legislature to the judicial branches of
government? What are the implications?
May 20 Victoria Day- NO CLASS
May 22 MID-TERM TEST
May 27 Regulating the Uterus: Abortion and New Re-productive Technologies
4 Haussman, M. (2001). Of rights and power: Canada’s Federal abortion
policy 1969-1991. In Abortion Politics, Women’s Movements and the
Democratic State: A Comparative Study of State Feminism, p.63-86.
Martin, S. Abortion Litigation, in Jhappen, R. (ed.). (2002). Women’s
Legal Strategies in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Yourk, D. (23 October 2002). Morgentaler launches Maritimes lawsuit.
The Globe and Mail.
What has been the impact of the Charter on the construction of legal decisions
May 29 The Making of Legal Subjects: Lesbian and Gay Rights
Capman, K. (2002). Helpern v. Canada (A.G.). Canadian Journal of
Family Law, 19(2): 423-444.
Lunman, K. (2003). Ottawa backs gay marriage- Court decision won’t be
appealed; Chretien promises new legislation
Agrell, S. (9 August 2007). Canadians still have ‘a long way to go’ on gay
issues. The Globe and Mail
How has the private/public distinction been used to frame gay/lesbian legal
June 3 Homelessness and the Regulation of Public Space
Hermer, Joe and Janet Mosher. 2002. Excerpt from “Introduction.” Pp. 11-
20 in Disorderly People: Law and the Politics of Exclusion in Ontario,
edited by J. Hermer and J. Mosher. Halifax: Fernwood.
O’Grady, Bill and Robert Bright. 2002. “Squeezed to the Point of
Exclusion: The Case of Toronto Squeegee Cleaners.” Pp. 23-39 in
Disorderly People: Law and the Politics of Exclusion in Ontario, edited
by J. Hermer and J. Mosher. Halifax: Fernwood.
How is the law used to regulate access to and use of public space?
June 5 Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure
Mathen, C. and Plaxton, M. (2011). HIV, consent and criminal wrongs.
Criminal Law Quarterly, 57(4): 464-485.
5 Supreme Court hears HIV disclosure case- Winnipeg man, Quebec woman
did not tell sexual partners they have HIV. (7 February 2012). CBC News.
Elliott, R. (8 February 2012). Let’s draw reasonable lines on HIV
disclosure. Globe and Mail.
What are the consequences of criminalizing non-disclosure of HIV status?
How does this law impact the right to privacy?
June 10 Regulation vs. Criminalization- The Case of Prostitution
Brock, D. Victim, nuisance, fallen women, outlaw worker? Making the
identity ‘prostitute’ in Canadian Criminal Law, in Chunn, D and Lacombe,
D. (eds.) (2000) Law as a Gendering Practice. Toronto: Oxford.
Ontario court crafts wise compromise on brothels. (26 March 2012).
Globe and Mail.
How do policies and laws that focus on criminalization differ from those that
*********TERM PAPER DUE IN CLASS*********
**MUST SUBMIT TO TURNITIN**
June 12 Regulation vs. Criminalization- The Case of Drug Control
Fisher, B., Ala-Leppilampi, K., Single, E. and Robins, A. (2003).
Cannabis law reform in Canada: Is the ‘sage of promise, hesitation and
retreat’ coming to an end? Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal
Justice, 45(3): 265-297.
Picard, A. (30 October 2011). Despite Insite victory, Canada’s drug
strategy is deeply flawed. Globe and Mail.
June 17 IN CLASS FINAL TEST
Procedures and Rules
6 1. Missed tests and assignments
• Accommodation provision: In general, for missed tests or assignments we follow UTM
policy about accommodation for the following three reasons: