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SOC323H5 Lecture Notes - Pierre Bourdieu, Class Discrimination, Power Law

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Zachary Levinsky

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Sept 26th
Legitimizing the Law’s Authority
Spectacular Justice
-layers of ‘the other’
-Pierre Bourdieu on exceptions
-the jury as representative of the community
Loo’s Typology on Law’s Power
-law as coercion
-law as symbol (ideology)
-law as rhetoric
The basic problem in the anthropological other is that it is never a recognition of the other; rather it is just an
epistemological other which perhaps says more about the epistemological systems of the ethnographer rather
than any ‘honest’ description of the other.
Spectacular Justice
For historians, and particularly for social historians, the unique and exceptional can be problematic in the
search for larger patterns and meanings in the past. Yet, for us, the value of this unusual episode lies in its
-multiple examples of the other
ourban industrialization
othe circus
onational identity
oblack offender and black victim
Shorty’s acquittal was the exception to the rule of everyday classist and racist justice, but it did nothing to
remedy injustice.
Role of the Exceptions to the Rule
Pierre Bourdieu
-‘noblesse oblige’
-education system way to distribute privilege
-prior social capital predicts success
-are instances of low social capital people rising up which are championed
-sustains mythology of education
The Jury as a Community Identity
Trials remind people, if only momentarily, of social fragility, because they expose the limits of community
regulation. That the court can be the epitome of community identity while simultaneously unsettling it is, for
Carol Greenhouse, the central paradox of the law.
Some ‘Spectacular’ Questions
1. Was the jury more swayed by Em Young’s arguments or their own personal stake?
a. Was he more important than other extral legal factors?
2. How could R V. Clarke be such a powerful source of national pride if it failed to register with the local
a. Are the authors giving too much weight to the trial more than what citizens gave?
Loo’s Typology of Law’s Power
1. law as coercive
2. law as symbolic
3. law as rhetoric
Law as Coercion
Despite law’s pretensions to neutrality, it creates and imposes a certain kind of order: it represents and
reinforces the interests of whites, Anglo-Saxons, heterosexuals, the propertied, the married, and men – or any
combination of these groups. People who do not fit these categories are labelled ‘other’ and subject to legal
regulation and sanctions aimed at reinforcing a particular social, economic and political order.
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