The Social Organization of Law: Introductory Readings / Edition 1

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Austin Sarat's The Social Organization of Law: Introductory Readings begins with a simple premise--law seeks to work in the world, to order, change, and give meaning to society--and describes legal processes as socially organized. This book connects legal studies to the study of society in two different senses.

First, the readings highlight law's responsiveness to various dimensions of social stratification. They also draw attention to the questions of when, why, and how legal decisions and actions respond to the social characteristics (e.g. race, class, and gender) of those making the decisions as well as those who are subject to them. These questions inevitably raise issues of justice and fairness, highlighting the moral dimensions of legal life.

Second, Sarat treats law itself as a social organization, emphasizing the complex relations between its various component parts (e.g., judges and jurors, police and prosecutors, appellate courts, and trial courts). The book examines the traditional subject of professional legal study--namely appellate court opinions--and describes some of the most pressing controversies of legal interpretation while questioning how those opinions take on meaning in social life. Sarat also questions whether those at the top of law's bureaucratic structure effectively control the behavior of others in the legal system's chain of command.

This anthology provides accessible, up-to-date materials (such as readings on terrorism and the challenges it poses to law, racial profiling, and gay rights) juxtaposed to the classics of the field. Introductions to each reading, along with the notes and questions written by the author, unpack the issues and engage students, enabling them to link the material from one chapter to another. Additional suggested readings provide stimulus for further inquiry.

The Social Organization of Law offers students a broad perspective that treats law as a set of institutions and practices combining moral argument, distinctive interpretive traditions, and the social organization of violence.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195330342
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 596
  • Sales rank: 1,170,897
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Amherst College
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Table of Contents

Part I. When Law Fails
Section 1. The Limits of Legal Protection
1. 'Hockey Dad's Death Probed as Homicide,' Ed Hayward and David Talbot
2. 'Dad Sentenced to 6 to 10 Years for Rink Death,' Geraldine Baum
3. DeShaney v. Winnebago
4. 'A Crime of Self Defense,' George Fletcher
5. 'In the Nation's Capital, It's the Season of Insecurity,' Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
6. 'The Spirit of the Laws,' Harold Koh
Section 2. What Law Is For
7. 'Leviathan,' Thomas Hobbes
8. 'Law as a Weapon in Social Conflict,' Austin Turk
9. 'On Liberty,' John Stuart Mill
10. Lawrence v. Texas
11. 'Law as Rhetoric, Rhetoric as Law,' James Boyd White
Part II. The Search for Law
Section 3. Three Dilemmas of Social Organization
12. 'Before the Law,' Franz Kafka
Severity and Leniency
13. 'Property, Authority and the Criminal Law,' Douglas Hay
Bureaucratic Control and Rule Following
14. 'Violence and the Word,' Robert Cover
Part III. Access to Justice: The Demand for Law and Law's Demands
Section 4. Lining Up at the Door of Law
15. 'The Emergence and Transformation of Disputes,' William Felstiner, Richard Abel, and Austin Sarat
16. 'Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences,' Peter Huber
17. 'The Crisis Is Injuries, Not Liability,' Richard Abel
18. 'How Jury Decided How Much the Coffee Spill Was Worth,' Andrea Gerling
19. 'Jurors' Judgments of Business Liability in Tort Cases,' Valerie Hans and William Loftquist
Section 5. Lawyers in Civil Cases
20. 'Lawyers and Consumer Protection Laws,' Stewart Macaulay
21. 'The Justice Broker: Lawyers & Ordinary Litigation,' Hebert Kritzer
22. 'The Impact of Legal Counsel on Outcomes for Poor Tenants in New York City's Housing Court,' Carroll Seron et al.
Section 6. Whose Law Is It Anyway?
23. Rusk v. Maryland
24. 'Rape,' Susan Estrich
25. 'Risking Relationships,' Phoebe Morgan
26. 'Rights Talk and the Experience of Law,' Sally Engle Merry
Section 7. Who Speaks and Who Is Heard: The Continuing Significance of Class
27. Goldberg v. Kelley
28. 'Subordination, Rhetorical Survival Skills, and Sunday Shoes,' Lucie White
29. 'Dependency by Law,' Frank Munger
Part IV. Severity and Leniency: Administering a System of Discretionary Justice
Section 8. From Severity to Leniency: Plea Bargaining and the Possibility of Justice
30. 'American Courts: Process and Policy,' Lawrence Baum
31. Scott v. United States
32. 'Torture and Plea Bargaining,' John Langbein
Section 9. Lawyers in Criminal Cases
33. 'Convictability and Discordant Locales,' Lisa Frohmann
34. 'Understanding Lawyers' Ethics,' Monroe Freedman and Abbe Smith
35. 'Fine Line in Indictment: Defense vs. Complicity,' Laura Mansnerus
36. 'Defending White Collar Crime,' Kenneth Mann
37. 'The Practice of Law as a Confidence Game,' Abraham S. Blumberg
Section 10. Juries in Criminal Cases: Biased or Conscientious Judgment
38. 'Trial By Jury,' Alex de Tocqueville
39. 'Are Twelve Heads Better Than One?' Phoebe Ellsworth
40. 'Jury Duty: When History and Life Coincide,' Elisabeth Perry
41. 'When Race Trumps Truth in Court,' Michael Weiss and Karl Zinsmeister
42. United States v. Thomas
Section 11. Sentencing
43. 'Federal Sentencing Guidelines: A View From the Bench,' Nancy Gertner
44. Ewing v. California
45. 'Thirty Years of Sentencing Reform,' Cassia Spohn
46. 'Sizing up Sentences,' Michael Higgins
Part V. Organizing Law's Violence
Section 12. Policing the Police
47. 'Justice Without Trial,' Jerome Skolnick
48. 'Broken Windows,' James Q. Wilson and George Kelling
49. 'Policing Disorder,' Bernard Harcourt
50. 'Profiles in Justice? Police Discretion, Symbolic Assailants, and Stereotyping,' Milton Heumann and Lance Cassak
51. 'The Myth of Racial Profiling,' Heather MacDonald
52. Tennessee v. Garner
53. 'Officers in Bronx Fire 41 Shots, and an Unarmed Man Is Killed,' Michael Cooper, New York Times
54. 'To Shoot or Not? Fellow Officers Say They Fear Facing Same Decision,' Katherine Finkelstein, New York Times
55. 'Want to Torture? Get a Warrant,' Alan M. Dershowitz
Section 13. Punishment: Imprisonment
56. 'Persons and Punishment,' Herbert Morris
57. 'Punishment, Power, and Justice,' Patricia Ewick
58. United States v. Bailey
59. 'Deadly Symbiosis: Rethinking Race and Imprisonment in Twenty-First Century America,' Loïc Wacquant
Section 14. The Death Penalty: Controlling Juries/Preventing Discrimination
60. Furman v. Georgia
61. Gregg v. Georgia
62. McClesky v. Kemp
63. 'Folk Knowledge as Legal Action,' Benjamin Steiner et al.
Section 15. The Future of Capital Punishment
64. 'God's Justice and Ours,' Antonin Scalia
65. 'I Must Act,' George Ryan

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