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SOC323H5 (91)


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Nicole Myers

Law & Society Lecture 1 – Introduction & Socio-Legal Theory What are we going to talk about? - Social control, economics, morality, complexities (of law), and politics - Controversies We will discuss two dominant themes: 1. Classical and contemporary legal theories (first half) 2. Charter & different socio-legal issues  morality (second half) Law is present in ways which we sometimes don’t realize – it overlays all social processes, and thus affects our behaviour. Debates: pull on theoretical perspectives. How does each perspective shift the analysis [of law and society]? Make arguments based on research and theory. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion however, this course does not focus on the personal so must remove self from personal. Exam: June 17 , in-class (like midterm) Term Paper: morality + charter  conflicting rights? - How has law shifted to change these issues? - Hardcopy due in-class + submit online to What is Law and Society? - How does it govern people’s behaviour? - Law shifts over time and space  it is culturally contingent - Disciplinary approaches - Broader context - Law means different things to different people and definitions also depend on what it is you are attempting to do with the law o History, economics, politics o Area of research, type of methodology used Introduction to Law and Society - Where is the law? o Law is everywhere  Rules around food served in cafeterias, driving your car, taking public transportation (bus driver has to obey certain laws as well), type of music on the radio o Shapes our worldview  Influences what we think is right and wrong  Lens of looking at how we live and interpret our everyday life o Law is more than legislation (Criminal Code, Charter) and legal bodies (police, judges) thus it is more than the sum of its parts - What is the sociology of the law? o Law as a set of social practices  Connections between laws  how are they translated into practice?  How does law function outside the justice system? What is it actually capable of doing? How important is the law – how much of a necessity is it? o Interaction of law, legal institutions, legal behaviour o Development of legal institutions, social control, regulation, social construction, social change  Influences our interactions  Should law govern morality and ethics? Or is this a place of religion?  What role does the law have in restricting behaviour? Opening up behaviour?  Who constructs the law? (decides) o Social context  Economy, culture, who is dominant in politics at the time Core Questions 1. What is the role of law in society? 2. How do legal processes both influence and are shaped by social, political and economic relations? 3. What are the links between culture of rights and the regulation of morality? 4. How do different theoretical frameworks analyze contemporary socio-legal debates? What is a sociological approach to the study of law? How does it differ from other approaches? - What is unique about the sociological approach to law? o Law is a social phenomenon Law is… - A complex social process - Historically, culturally, contextually, and socially specific - How does it impact an individual? How is the law written and enforced? Is it enforced in different ways? Do different groups experience it differently? - Dynamic NOT static o Changes over time - Reciprocal o Society and law are integrated  feedback into each other Historically Specific 1920s: prohibition of alcohol = source of society’s ailments - Temperance movement - Poverty, domestic abuse, crime would be eliminated if alcohol was gone - Strong lobby groups Temperance Act (1878): forbade sale of alcohol  until 1920s: different provinces began to lobby against Dry community until 1990s No bars, etc. Morality tale: marijuana was being categorized as harmful (more so than heroin) Movie: well to do youngsters’ lives fell apart b/c of marijuana Today: Cannabis March, 4 20, Toronto Hemp Company, Kensington Market: Hotbox Café – tools but no sale of marijuana Though technically illegal, police don’t bother b/c behind closed doors USA: some states decriminalized marijuana for personal use Canada: no criminal sanction but like a traffic ticket; 90 000 people charged with small amount of marijuana possession last year; it is criminal and police still enforce, but varies by discretion Safe Injection: bring own drugs; supervision – in case of overdoses, medical staff on standby so is a safer place to use Vancouver 1988: Supreme Court removed (struck down) abortion from law – no law surrounds it so it is no longer illegal Some people thought
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