Categories: Legal Theory and Jurisprudence

Instructor(s) Rueda Saiz, Pablo

This course explores the sociological descriptions and explanations of legal institutions, focusing mostly in the United States and Latin America. Although the focus of the course is mostly sociological, it will also focus on the ways in which influential anthropologists, political scientists, psychologists, and economists understand such institutions. One of the first questions that this course poses regards the presence, form and functions of law in different societies, and its relation to social norms. For example, this course looks at theories that understand law in terms of the improvement of humanity, both individually and collectively, and others that depict it as a mechanism of hegemony and oppression.

This course focuses on perspectives that seek to explain legal phenomena, analyzing different theories that seek to explain them from the perspectives of individuals and institutions, by addressing issues related to compliance and non-compliance with the law. Some of the questions that these perspectives address are: 1) when, why and under what conditions do people comply? 2) how is compliance related to culture, power, and to individual cost-benefit analyses? 3) when and under what conditions do States and organizations implement existing laws?

Furthermore, this course also analyzes theories that seek to explain some of the consequences of legal institutions. Thus, it focuses on questions such as if, when, and how does law serve to maintain order and the status quo, and when does it help to promote social change? How does the law affect different social groups?

log in