SOCY 791D: Sociology of Law and Social Control

Overview of a course taught by Dr. Mathieu Deflem at the University of South Carolina.


This is a graduate seminar on the sociological study of law and social control. This is a combined lecture and student-presentation course that surveys some of the most important theoretical and empirical developments in the sociology of law and social control. It is designed to introduce graduate students to some key theories and research traditions in the sociological study of law and social control and to stimulate them to actively contribute in substantive theoretical and empirical ways, at the highest level of academic rigor, in this field of sociology.

This course will review and analyze the specific characteristics of the manner in which sociologists study law and social control and seeks to explain some of the patterns and dynamics of law and social control in a variety of social settings. Emphasis is on the classics as well as selected theoretical chapters in modern and contemporary sociology. We also discuss a selection of theoretically framed empirical themes of law and social control, the legal profession, and law and culture. Finally, we discuss aspects of the sociology of punishment and social control, including international policing and counterterrorism.

The course syllabus will be handed out in class.


Introduction: Sociology, Law, and Social Control

Part I. The Foundations and Development of the Sociology of Law
Law and the Rise of the Social Sciences
Max Weber on the Rationalization of Law
Emile Durkheim on Law and Social Solidarity
From (Sociological) Jurisprudence to Sociology of Law
Sociology of Law and the Antinomies of Modern Thought
Part II. Sociological Dimensions of Law
Law and Economy: The Regulation of the Free Market
Law and Politics: The Role of Democratic Law
Law and Integration: The Legal Profession
Law and Culture: The Balance of Values Through Norms
Part III. Social Control: Punishment, Policing, Terrorism
The Function of Punishment
The Globalization of Law
International Police Cooperation
The Policing of Terrorism

  • Deflem, Mathieu. 2008. Sociology of Law: Visions of a Scholarly Tradition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Foucault, Michel. (1975) 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon.
  • Deflem, Mathieu. 2002. Policing World Society. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 
  • Deflem, Mathieu. 2010. The Policing of Terrorism. New York: Routledge.

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