Field Description

The interdisciplinary study of law and society is different from a lawyer's conception of the law in terms of doctrines and disputes of interpretation. The Research Field on Law and Society draws on course offerings in Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, History, Legal Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Rhetoric and Sociology.  Students in this field explore the historical preconditions for the emergence of law and its specialized practices, such as criminal law, and seek to understand the reasons for cross-national variance in legal systems. Students study the law as a system both of rights and for adjudication of disputes, as a mechanism for enabling and containing social change, as a means of integration and normalization of behavior, and as a source of power and legitimacy. Both empirical and normative questions about the legitimacy of the law are central to this research field.