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Lecture Notes
> > Gerald Rosenberg gets down to the day-to-day of law

In examining the nexus of courts, law, and society, Gerald N. Rosenberg, an associate professor of political science and a 1993 Quantrell Award winner, emphasizes the practical realities of law rather than official interpretations.

The reading list for Rosenberg's Political Science 225: Law and Society, taught this past winter quarter, included the professor's own offering, The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? (University of Chicago Press). In it, Rosenberg discusses the monumental decisions Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, theorizing that only with political backing and public support can the court system effect real change. Lani Guinier, Michelle Fine, and Jane Balin's Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School, and Institutional Change (Beacon) explores the attitudes toward women in law school and the gender gap in grades, achievement, and careers at the country's elite schools. Gerald Stern's Buffalo Creek Disaster (Vintage) examines a case in which a large settlement was procured for residents of Buffalo Creek, Virginia, after a mine collapsed, killing workers and damaging houses. Taken together, Rosenberg's readings are meant to show that law--as practiced in society--differs greatly from law as preached in schools, appellate cases, and textbooks.

"Law pervades all aspects of society in the United States," explains Rosenberg. "There is, of course, the formal legal system of laws and lawyers, judges and courts. But how does law work in practice? This seminar explores the informal, unofficial elements of the law that surround, supplement, supplant, and complement the official, formal elements. In exploring issues such as legal consciousness, judicial biases, and legal education in the legal profession, students develop a more sophisticated and subtle understanding of the place of law in U.S. society."--B.B.


  AUGUST 2000
  > > Volume 92, Number 6


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