Introduction to Socio-legal studies
This course starts with two fundamental questions in socio-legal studies. How do laws and legal institutions affect society and social behavior? And conversely, how does society affect the production of laws and the functioning of legal institutions? Socio-legal scholarship has used different perspectives in answering these questions, including a so-called cultural perspective. The course focuses on that perspective, and zooms in on a quite topical issue: the – increasingly – multicultural or ethnically diverse nature of society. We will explore how that characteristic influences the emergence and functioning of laws and legal institutions. And we will examine how different ethnic or religious groups, often confronted with a situation of legal pluralism, deal with laws and legal institutions. We will be asking ourselves if law should merely reflect a society, or whether it also has a function to change society in a certain direction? And if law does not reflect the whole of society, what implications does this have for minority groups? These questions are relevant to societies in both the Global North and the Global South. Accordingly, the course will draw on and discuss cases from both regions.
At the end of this course, students should be able to:
Compare different perspectives regarding the relation between law, culture and society.
Explain and illustrate (i) how the existence of cultural and ethnic diversity affects laws and legal institutions within societies; (ii) how members of different ethnic or religious groups deal with laws and legal institutions in this multicultural context.
Explain and illustrate how and to what extent laws and legal institutions at local, national and international levels provide room for cultural difference.
Explain and apply the concept legal pluralism to actual or fictional cases
Describe and illustrate different conceptions of law, and summarize debates about the concept culture.
Draw on relevant arguments to position themselves in current debates about the relation between law, culture, and society.
Choose a topic of interest, formulate a research question, delineate the scope of the research on that question, and write a paper/essay about that question within the scope chosen.
Students will gain the following practical skills from taking this course:
Oral presentation skills
Debating skills (participating, organizing, chairing)
Academic paper writing skills
Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.
Mode of instruction
The course uses a variety of teaching methods, including (interactive) lecturing, student presentations, web postings, class discussion and debate. Teaching materials include readings as well as video and film clips.
Group presentation, 10%, weeks 1-7;
In-class participation (including debates), 10%, weeks 1-7;
Three short reaction papers to week’s readings, 15%;
Final essay (2000 words max.), based on a proposal pitch, 30%, week 7;
Final written examination, 35%, week 8.
In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.
There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.
There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.
The required and recommended reading will be listed in the course syllabus and will be made available on blackboard.
This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.