Sociology Of Law at Dalhousie University | Flashcards & Summaries

Lernmaterialien für Sociology of Law an der Dalhousie University

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What is the official Version of Law?
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What the legal world wants us to believe about itself. It suggests that the law is impartial, neutral and objective. That the law is powerful and protects us and is applied equally.

It’s codified, predictable and rational and is considered legitimate. 

It is produced by people. 

OVL symbolized by lady liberty ie. blindfolded, scales, virginal, sword.
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Compare how Durkheim and Marx view the role of law. 
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Durkheim: law is an expression of collective consciousness and is key to maintaining social solidarity. With the move from mechanical solidarity to the more complex organic solidarity there was a need for consensus as people no longer shared the same values and norms because they had different jobs and concerns. Everyone relied on each other to complete their individualized task for society to function as it should. Without the ability to see common ground and relate to others anomie or a sense of normlessness could ensue and threaten the well-being of society.  The law helps prevent anomie creates consensus  and maintains social cohesion and order. It binds diverse people to have a shared understanding of the law.

Marx: the law is a tool used by the capitalist bourgeoisie to countinue to dominate the proletariat. It’s role is to uphold  social conflict not to create consensus. It drastically benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. The world is structured around power and domination which is centred in the hands of the few to use against the many. Law helps protect the incredibly unequal capitalist system and aids in the oppression of the poor. Where Durkheim saw consensus as an important role of law, Marx saw class conflict as the role of law. 
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Instrumental Marxism
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Looks at the state as directly serving the interests of the ruling class. A tool of the bourgeoisie/ capitalist. Views law as an instrument to control the poor have nots in society, while the rich are immune from punishment.
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Structural Marxism
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Understands society as organized to advance the long-term interests of the ruling class. Views laws main goal as upholding capitalism which sometimes means punishing those on top of the capitalist hierarchy to sustain the system. 
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Rationality

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Refers to the employment of criteria that allows decisions that are made to apply equally to all like cases. 

If different rules and regulations were applied to similar cases chaos would ensue. 
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Formality
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Refers to the employment of criteria, standards and logic in the legal system, needs to be codified. Has to be a standard that it written down. 
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Mechanical Solidarity
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Collective conscious

More simplistic societies - smaller and localized. Society was held together because everyone had the same values and norms thanks to the basic division of labour that had everyone doing the same thing. Sameness kept society together. Conformity was expected and deviance was punished as it was understood as sinful.  
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Organic Solidarity
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Individual conscience 

A product of more complex societies with a greater division of labour. We know longer have a shared set of values  as we come from diverse backgrounds. Individuals relying on the work of others which creates a social space for freedom.  We rely on the work of others to keep society functioning. Since we don’t have shared values and norms there is risk of anomie which is why If society was to function properly consensus needed to occur and that consensus came from law.
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Critical Race Theory
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Kimberly Crenshaw 

An intellectual movement and framework of legal analysis that argues that race is a cultural construction used to oppress people of colour - a culturally invented category.

Law and legal institutions are inherently racist, contribute to structural racism and are implicated in maintaining racial inequality. Racism embedded into institutions replicating racial inequality. Racism is codified in law and embedded in structures and woven into public policy.

Rejects the idea that law is impartial, objective and applied equally. 

Embraces lived experience of people of colour. 
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Modernist theories of law

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Assumes that a positive/ scientific method holds the key to the truth about human behaviour . Search for grand theories that explain virtually all of human behaviour. 

Grand theories can explain the law and society relationship. 

Law consists of uniform rules applying equally to all, emphasizes rights and obligations, is Universalistic, bureaucratic and hierarchal, is rational is run by trained pros and has a monopoly over coercion and resolving disputes. 
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Postmodernist approach to law 

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Rejects the ideas that law is a discrete, self contained process and argues that it is intimately connected to social norms and society.

Rejects the idea of a scientific philosophical or religious truth that will explain everything for everybody. Believes in the existence of multiple often competing truths. There will never be a grand theory to explain the law and society relationship as not one theory can work for everyone and explain every situation.

Modernist theories of law did not centre on racialized groups and their standpoints so how can those theories explain everything. 
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Legal pluralism 
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Various legal and cultural systems exist together. 
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Q:
What is the official Version of Law?
A:
What the legal world wants us to believe about itself. It suggests that the law is impartial, neutral and objective. That the law is powerful and protects us and is applied equally.

It’s codified, predictable and rational and is considered legitimate. 

It is produced by people. 

OVL symbolized by lady liberty ie. blindfolded, scales, virginal, sword.
Q:
Compare how Durkheim and Marx view the role of law. 
A:
Durkheim: law is an expression of collective consciousness and is key to maintaining social solidarity. With the move from mechanical solidarity to the more complex organic solidarity there was a need for consensus as people no longer shared the same values and norms because they had different jobs and concerns. Everyone relied on each other to complete their individualized task for society to function as it should. Without the ability to see common ground and relate to others anomie or a sense of normlessness could ensue and threaten the well-being of society.  The law helps prevent anomie creates consensus  and maintains social cohesion and order. It binds diverse people to have a shared understanding of the law.

Marx: the law is a tool used by the capitalist bourgeoisie to countinue to dominate the proletariat. It’s role is to uphold  social conflict not to create consensus. It drastically benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. The world is structured around power and domination which is centred in the hands of the few to use against the many. Law helps protect the incredibly unequal capitalist system and aids in the oppression of the poor. Where Durkheim saw consensus as an important role of law, Marx saw class conflict as the role of law. 
Q:
Instrumental Marxism
A:
Looks at the state as directly serving the interests of the ruling class. A tool of the bourgeoisie/ capitalist. Views law as an instrument to control the poor have nots in society, while the rich are immune from punishment.
Q:
Structural Marxism
A:
Understands society as organized to advance the long-term interests of the ruling class. Views laws main goal as upholding capitalism which sometimes means punishing those on top of the capitalist hierarchy to sustain the system. 
Q:
Rationality

A:
Refers to the employment of criteria that allows decisions that are made to apply equally to all like cases. 

If different rules and regulations were applied to similar cases chaos would ensue. 
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Q:
Formality
A:
Refers to the employment of criteria, standards and logic in the legal system, needs to be codified. Has to be a standard that it written down. 
Q:
Mechanical Solidarity
A:
Collective conscious

More simplistic societies - smaller and localized. Society was held together because everyone had the same values and norms thanks to the basic division of labour that had everyone doing the same thing. Sameness kept society together. Conformity was expected and deviance was punished as it was understood as sinful.  
Q:
Organic Solidarity
A:
Individual conscience 

A product of more complex societies with a greater division of labour. We know longer have a shared set of values  as we come from diverse backgrounds. Individuals relying on the work of others which creates a social space for freedom.  We rely on the work of others to keep society functioning. Since we don’t have shared values and norms there is risk of anomie which is why If society was to function properly consensus needed to occur and that consensus came from law.
Q:
Critical Race Theory
A:
Kimberly Crenshaw 

An intellectual movement and framework of legal analysis that argues that race is a cultural construction used to oppress people of colour - a culturally invented category.

Law and legal institutions are inherently racist, contribute to structural racism and are implicated in maintaining racial inequality. Racism embedded into institutions replicating racial inequality. Racism is codified in law and embedded in structures and woven into public policy.

Rejects the idea that law is impartial, objective and applied equally. 

Embraces lived experience of people of colour. 
Q:
Modernist theories of law

A:
Assumes that a positive/ scientific method holds the key to the truth about human behaviour . Search for grand theories that explain virtually all of human behaviour. 

Grand theories can explain the law and society relationship. 

Law consists of uniform rules applying equally to all, emphasizes rights and obligations, is Universalistic, bureaucratic and hierarchal, is rational is run by trained pros and has a monopoly over coercion and resolving disputes. 
Q:
Postmodernist approach to law 

A:
Rejects the ideas that law is a discrete, self contained process and argues that it is intimately connected to social norms and society.

Rejects the idea of a scientific philosophical or religious truth that will explain everything for everybody. Believes in the existence of multiple often competing truths. There will never be a grand theory to explain the law and society relationship as not one theory can work for everyone and explain every situation.

Modernist theories of law did not centre on racialized groups and their standpoints so how can those theories explain everything. 
Q:
Legal pluralism 
A:
Various legal and cultural systems exist together. 
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