Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Law and Society

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.

Library Resources is forthcoming; meanwhile, please contact Lynn Jones at

Recent ISF Senior Theses

  • We Carry You in Our Blood: Forensic Evidence and Transnational Justice in Chile
  • Class-Based Apartheid: The Toil of the Poor in India
  • The Influence of John Locke on 17th and 18th Century North American Conceptions of Law and Society
  • Fighting Poverty Through Human Rights: The Socio-Economic Impact of Legal Developments on the African Poor
  • The Structure and Effectiveness of Truth Commissions in South Africa and Guatemala: A Comparative Analysis
  • Telling on Others: The Rationalization of Snitching
  • The International Criminal Court: Major Problems and Debates
  • How Can We Help: An Institutional Analysis of the Legal Challenges to Humanitarian Aid in the 21st Century
  • Profits and People: The Effects of Foreign Direct Investment on Human Rights in Burma, 1990-2010
  • A Modern Application of the Propaganda Model: U.S. News Coverage of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution

Relevant UC Berkeley Courses

  • Peace and Conflict Studies 127: Human Rights and Global Politics
  • History C187: The History and Practice of Human Rights
  • Political Science 124C: Ethics and Justice in International Affairs
  • Political Science 150: The American Legal System
  • Legal Studies 102: Policing and Society
  • Legal Studies 139: Comparative Perspectives on Norms and Legal Traditions
  • Legal Studies 151: Law, Self, and Society
  • Sociology 114: Sociology of Law
  • Sociology 140: Politics and Social Change
  • Rhetoric 160: Introduction to the Rhetoric of Legal Discourse
  • Anthropology 157: Anthropology of Law

Anaya, S. James. 2004. Indigenous Peoples in International Law. New York: Oxford University Press.

Alexander, Michelle. 2012. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press.

Arendt, Hannah. 1973. “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man.” Pp. 267–304 in The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Backer, Larry Cata. 2007. Harmonizing Law in an Era of Globalization: Convergence, Divergence and Resistance. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Beccaria, Cesare. 1986. On Crimes and Punishments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

van den Berg, P. A. J. 2007. The Politics of European Codification: A History of the Unification of Law in France, Prussia, the Austrian Monarchy and the Netherlands. Groningen, Netherlands: Europa Law Publishing.

Berkowitz, Roger. 2005. The Gift of Science. Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Berman, Harold J. 1985. Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Black, Donald and M. Mileski, eds. 1973. The Social Organization of Law. New York: Academic Press.

Brown, Wendy and Janet Halley, eds. 2002. Left Legalism/Left Critique. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books.

Brubaker, Rogers. 1998. Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Buss, Doris and Ambreena Manji, eds. 2005. International Law: Modern Feminist Approaches. Portland, OR: Hart Publishing.

Carens, Joseph H. 1987. “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.” The Review of Politics 49(2):251–73.

Dembour, Marie-Bénédicte and Tobias Kelly, eds. 2007. Paths to International Justice: Social and Legal Perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press.

David, René and John E. C. Brierley. 1978. Major Legal Systems in the World Today: An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Law. New York: Free Press.

De Tocqueville, Alexis. 2003. Democracy in America. Edited by Isaac Kramnick and translated by Gerald Bevan. London, England: Penguin Classics.

Derrida, Jacques. 2002. “Declarations of Independence.” Pp. 46–54 in Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001, edited by Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

DuBois, W. E. B. 1947. An Appeal to the World: A Statement of Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress. New York: NAACP.

Durkheim, Émile. 1997. The Division of Labor in Society. New York: The Free Press.

Fenrich, Jeanmarie, Paolo Galizzi, and Tracy E. Higgins, eds. 2011. The Future of African Customary Law. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1991. “Governmentality.” Pp. 87–104 in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, edited by Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1995. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books.

Friedman, Lawrence M. 1989. “Litigation and Society.” Annual Review of Sociology 15:17–29.

Friedman, Lawrence M. 2005. A History of American Law. 3 edition. New York: Touchstone.

Friedman, Lawrence M. and Rogelio Perez Perdomo. 2003. Legal Culture in the Age of Globalization: Latin America and Latin Europe. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Galanter, Marc. 1966. “The Modernization of Law.” Pp. 153–65 in Modernization: The Dynamics of Growth, edited by Myron Weiner. New York: Basic Books.

García-Villegas, Mauricio. 2006. “Comparative Sociology of Law: Legal Fields, Legal Scholarships, and Social Sciences in Europe and the United States.” Law & Social Inquiry 31(2):343–82.

Gargarella, Roberto. 2010. The Legal Foundations of Inequality. Constitutionalism in the Americas, 1776-1860. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Garland, David. 1997. “‘Governmentality’ and the Problem of Crime: Foucault, Criminology, Sociology.” Theoretical Criminology 1(2):173–214.

Giddens, Anthony. 1973. Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1998. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Haley, John Owen. 1994. Authority without Power: Law and the Japanese Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press.

Haney López, Ian. 1997. White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: New York University Press.

Haney-Lopez, Ian F. 2003. Racism on Trial: The Chicano Fight for Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Hart, H. L. A., Leslie Green, Joseph Raz, and Penelope A. Bulloch. 2012. The Concept of Law. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Hirschl, Ran. 2009. “The Judicialization of Politics.” Pp. 253–74 in The Oxford Handbook of Political Science, edited by Robert e. Goodin. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hodgson, Dorothy L., ed. 2011. Gender and Culture at the Limit of Rights. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hoffer, Peter Charles. 1998. Law and People in Colonial America. Revised edition. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hoffmann, Stefan-Ludwig, ed. 2010. Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Huang, Philip. 2002. Code, Custom, and Legal Practice in China: The Qing and the Republic Compared. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hunt, Alan. 1993. Explorations in Law and Society: Toward A Constitutive Theory of Law. New York: Routledge.

Hunt, Lynn, ed. 1996. The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History. Boston, MA: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press.

Hunt, Lynn. 2007. Inventing Human Rights. A History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Jones, W. J. 1971. Politics and the Bench The Judges and the Origins of the English Civil War. London, England: George Allen & Unwin.

Kagan, Robert A. 2003. Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Kapur, Ratna. 2002. “The Tragedy of Victimization Rhetoric: Resurrecting the ‘Native’ Subject in International/Post-Colonial Feminist Legal Politics.” Harvard Human Rights Journal 15(Spring):1–37.

Kayaoğlu, Turan. 2013. Legal Imperialism: Sovereignty and Extraterritoriality in Japan, the Ottoman Empire, and China. Reprint edition. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kennedy, David and Joseph E. Stiglitz, eds. 2013. Law and Economics with Chinese Characteristics: Institutions for Promoting Development in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Kidder, Robert L. 1983. Connecting Law and Society: An Introduction to Research and Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Locke, John. 2003. Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration. Edited by Ian Shapiro. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

MacKinnon, Catharine A. 2005. Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Manela, Erez. 2009. The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Marx, Karl. 1994. “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (selections).” Pp. 54–97 in Karl Marx. Selected Writings, edited by Lawrence H. Simon. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

Marx, Karl. 1994. “On the Jewish Question.” Pp. 1–26 in Selected Writings, edited by Lawrence H. Simon. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. 1994. “The Communist Manifesto.” Pp. 157–86 in Karl Marx. Selected Writings, edited by Lawrence H. Simon. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

Mattei, Ugo and Laura Nader. 2008. Plunder: When the Rule of Law Is Illegal. 1 edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Méndez, Juan E. 2001. “National Reconciliation, Transnational Justice, and the International Criminal Court.” Ethics & International Affairs 15(1):25–44.

Mendez, Juan E., Guillermo A. O’Donnell, and Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, eds. 1999. The (Un)Rule of Law and the Underprivileged in Latin America. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Merryman, John Henry. 2007. The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin America. 3 edition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Mommsen, W. J. and J. A. De Moor, eds. 1992. European Expansion and Law: The Encounter of European and Indigenous Law in the 19th- and 20th-Century Africa and Asia. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Montesquieu, Charles de. 1989. Montesquieu: The Spirit of the Laws. Edited by Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller, and Harold Samuel Stone. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Moyn, Samuel. 2010. The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Murphy, Jeffrie G. and Jules Coleman. 1989. Philosophy Of Law: An Introduction To Jurisprudence. Revised Edition. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Murphy, Walter F. 2008. Constitutional Democracy: Creating and Maintaining a Just Political Order. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Nardulli, Peter F., Buddy Peyton, and Joseph Bajjalieh. 2013. “Conceptualizing and Measuring Rule of Law Constructs, 1850-2010.” Journal of Law and Courts 1(1):139–92.

Peerenboom, Randall, ed. 2004. Asian Discourses of Rule of Law. Theories and Implementation of Rule of Law in Twelve Asian Countries, France and the U.S. London and New York: Routledge.

Plato. 2002. “Crito.” Pp. 45–57 in Plato. Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

Pocock, J. G. A. 1987. The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: A Study of English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. 2003. International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Rawls, John. 2005. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Rios, Victor M. 2011. Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys. New York: New York University Press.

Rouland, Norbert. 1994. Legal Anthropology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1968. The Social Contract. London, England: Penguin Classics.

Sarat, Austin and Thomas R. Kearns, eds. 1995. Law in Everyday Life. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Scott, James C. 1999. Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Shapiro, Martin. 1986. Courts: A Comparative and Political Analysis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Simmons, Beth A. 2010. “Treaty Compliance and Violation.” Annual Review of Political Science 13(1):273–96.

Tilly, Charles. 1998. “Where Do Rights Come From?” Pp. 55–72 in Democracy, Revolution, and History, edited by Theda Skocpol. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Tehranian, John. 2000. “Performing Whiteness: Naturalization Litigation and the Construction of Racial Identity in America.” The Yale Law Journal 109(4):817–48.

Trubek, David M., Helena Alviar Garcia, Diogo R. Coutinho, and Alvaro Santos, eds. 2014. Law and the New Developmental State: The Brazilian Experience in Latin American Context. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wacks, Raymond. 2008. Law. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Weber, Max. 1967. Max Weber On Law in Economy and Society. Edited by Max Rheinstein. New York: Touchstone.

Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society. An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Edited by Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Weber, Max. 2002. The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism and Other Writings. Edited by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells. New York: Penguin Books.

Whittington, Keith E., R. Daniel Kelemen, and Gregory A. Caldeira, eds. 2010. The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Zubaida, Sami. 2005. Law and Power in the Islamic World. London, England: I. B. Tauris.

Campus Resources