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SOC323H5 (91)

Legitimizing the Law's Authority

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Zachary Levinsky

SOC323 Sept 26 th 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 singularity. - multiple examples of the other o urban industrialization o the circus o national identity o black 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 community? 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
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