Sociology of Law: Law and Bureaucracy (20296). 3 units. Bureaucracy is a form of social organization fundamental to modern society. Law on the books becomes law in action largely through legal bureaucracies, whether it is through courts, administrative agencies, welfare offices or the compliance departments of private firms. In addition to exploring seminal texts on the concept of bureaucracy and organizations, this course will ask the following questions: Why is it important to study the organizational structure in which legal rules are interpreted and applied? How does the structure of bureaucracies—that is, the way in which they evaluate and adjudicate legal rights or claims—shape the precise way people experience the law?
Instead of focusing on one specific site or subject matter, this class will investigate a set of conceptual and theoretical tools that can be used to study various legal sites. The readings may cover the following specific legal bureaucracies: criminal courts, police organizations, prisons, sexual harassment and anti-discrimination compliance offices of private firms, welfare offices, regulatory or administrative agencies, and law school admissions offices. Together we will explore how the sociology of law, bureaucracy and organizations can be used to ask penetrating questions about how legal rules come to have the specific pattern of use (or nonuse), enforcement (or nonenforcement), costs and benefits for the people and activities they address.
Students will be expected to write frequent reaction papers to the readings and submit a final paper based on a short research inquiry into a specific legal organization of their choice.
Paper required. Enrollment limited to fifteen. I. Kohler-Hausmann.