Law and Society

Sociology 2309


Course Description

Introduction to the law as a social institution, including the origins of law and its relationship to other social institutions, social control, and social change.

This course will examine the interrelationships between law and other social structures and processes. We will focus on the development and structure of the law, legal practitioners, the legal system, dispute resolution, inequality and the law, and the relationship between the law and other social institutions. Finally, we will examine technology and the law and the impact on modern society.


Lippman, Matthew. 2018. Law and Society. 2nd ed. Sage Publishers

ISBN 978-1-5063-6227-4

Bookfinder Link

Course Goals

By the end of this course, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  1. The basic foundations of the sociology of law, the families of legal systems, and the functions and dysfunctions of the law

  2. The major legal theories and philosophies

  3. The structure of the legal system in the United States at both the state and federal level

  4. The unique characteristics of and training into the legal profession in the United States and the stratification systems within the legal profession

  5. The ethical requirements for legal practitioners and the factors that affect access to the law

  6. The basic methods of dispute resolution, the social influences on disputing, and public responses to the law

  7. The steps in the criminal justice process and the issues faced throughout the system

  8. The role of juries in the legal system and the influence of social and legal factors on jury decision making

  9. The law as a tool of social control, including an understanding of the role and effectiveness of punishment in society

  10. The role of the law in generating and responding to social change in society

  11. Racial, ethnic, and other forms of discrimination in their historical context

  12. The impact of technology on the law, especially with regards to privacy and mass surveillance

Law and society is a challenging course.

You will be asked to think critically and to draw inferences from a wide variety of available information. Your textbook is your most important resource. You should expect to spend a significant amount of time reading and studying it.