SOCY 540: Sociology of Law (Summer)

Professor Mathieu Deflem, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina
Department of Sociology
Office: Sloan 217


This is the overview for the SUMMER session. (Click here for regular semester version.)

This course is designed for upper-level undergraduates who major or minor in sociology and is also open to graduate and law-school students. It reviews the most important developments, both theoretical and empirical, in the sociology of law. This is not a course in law, but in the sociology of law. The goal of the class is to understand some of the specific characteristics of the manner in which sociologists study law as well as to explain some of the patterns and dynamics of law in a variety of social settings.

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to know and understand the manner in which sociologists study law and empirically analyze relevant dynamics of law and law-related phenomena in a variety of social settings. Successive sections of this course will focus on: classical theoretical contributions to the sociology of law; selected chapters in modern sociology of law; and a useful selection of empirical themes of law and law-related processes and structures to which the sociological theories will be applied. These empirical topics include, but are not necessarily limited to: law and economy; law and politics; law and culture; social structure and law; legality and legitimacy; the legal profession; law and inequality; and globalization and law.

The course syllabus is made available to students during the first class meeting.


Introduction: Sociology, Society, and Law

Part I. Theoretical Foundations of the Sociology of Law
1) Law and the Rise of the Social Sciences
2) Max Weber on the Rationalization of Law
3) Emile Durkheim on Law and Social Solidarity
Part II. Development and Variations of the Sociology of Law
4) The Theoretical Move Towards the Sociology of Law
5) From Sociological Jurisprudence to Sociology of Law
6) Sociology of Law and the Antinomies of Modern Thought
Part III. Sociological Dimensions of Law
7) Law and Economy: The Regulation of the Free Market
8) Law and Politics: The Role of Democratic Law
9) Law and Integration: The Legal Profession
10) Law and Culture: The Balance of Values Through Norms
Part IV. Special Problems of Law
11) Social Control: The Enforcement of Law
12) The Globalization of Law


There is one required book for this Summer course: 

Mathieu Deflem. 2008. Sociology of Law: Visions of a Scholarly Tradition. Cambridge University Press.


Graduate and law-school students are strongly discouraged from taking a gradate class during the semester. Graduate students would have to complete all of the readings and exams that are specified for undergraduates and do supplementary readings and additional assignments. Please email the instructor for further details. 

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