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Social Context and Social Location in the Sociology of Law

Social Context and Social Location in the Sociology of Law

edited by Gayle M. MacDonald
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 287
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  • Book Info
    Social Context and Social Location in the Sociology of Law
    Book Description:

    The work in this text represents an evolving body of critical analysis of the law and its social context.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0296-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
    Gayle MacDonald
  4. Preface
    (pp. 9-10)
  5. Part I: Theorizing the Struggles:: New Challenges, New Directions

    • 1 Theory and the Canon: How the Sociology of Law is Organized
      (pp. 13-22)
      Gayle M. MacDonald

      Sociology has much to offer to the study of law, as sociology is, by definition, the critiquing discipline. Sociology examines from a critical standpoint the institutions, the social processes, and the organization of work, family and gender relations that exist in the social world. As a discipline that critiques everyday social practices, sociology thus enables students to see how what they come to take for granted in the social world — or what they think they know — is neither without precedent nor inevitable but definitely predictable. To do this in a classroom is to empower the sociology student to question “the...

    • 2 Critical Theory and the Sociology of Law: Contradiction and Currency
      (pp. 23-46)
      Gayle M. MacDonald

      An overarching theme for the collection of readings in this book can be outlined as follows: the readings all apply critical theory to the study of the sociology of law. Although these chapters address radically different social conflicts in law, and even vastly different time frames, they do have one coherent, unifying pattern, which is often a unique blend of theory, method, and socio-legal struggle. This is the very strength of critical theory: its ability to shift between both the theoretical paradigms and method traditions within sociology.

      In this book, readers will find that the “expected” theoretical explanation, or method...

  6. Part II: Social Context and the Formation of Law

    • 3 Legal Treatment of the Body: The Example of Sexual Abuse by Doctors
      (pp. 49-68)
      Patricia Hughes

      In this chapter, I examine, through a focus on sexual abuse by doctors of their patients, how the law treats women’s bodily experience and in particular how different legalfora(the civil, the criminal, and the regulatory) mediate what is to the woman the same experience. Although much of what I have to say applies to professionals in different contexts, the application is not automatically transferable from one profession to another. I will limit my examination to the doctor-patient context, since it is in that context that most of the self-examination among professionals has occurred and in which there has...

    • 4 Legal Discourse and Domestic Legal Aid: The Problem of Fitting In
      (pp. 69-90)
      Lori Beaman

      The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees women equality and security of the person in theory, yet in practice it is often quite different. While an abused woman might seem to be an obvious case for legal protection under the Charter’s security of the person provisions,¹ the woman’s experience described above is an example of the power of legal discourse to shape women’s stories so as to minimize or exclude them. How does legal discourse serve to discount women’s experiences and ignore their voices? One way is through limiting women's access to justice through a variety of practices.


    • 5 Of Death, Desire, and Knowledge: Law and Social Control of Witches in Renaissance Europe
      (pp. 91-130)
      Sheila Noonan

      Historically, women have long been associated with the body and its processes. Our association with reproduction and our consignment to the private sphere of home and family established the body as a subject of central concern to feminist scholars. The bulk of feminist legal writing on the body has tended to centre on the contemporary relation between the female body, and institutions of social control, including the criminal justice system.² It is the body as a site of inscription of various strategies of legal control which is the topic of this chapter. The lens through which this issue will be...

  7. Part III: Social Location and the Application of Law

    • 6 The Farmer Takes a Wife and the Wife Takes the Farm: Marriage and Farming
      (pp. 133-158)
      Susan T. Machum

      When a woman marries a farmer, she is entering a different social, economic, and political arena from her urban counterpart who marries a worker or a professional. According to Weitzman, when two people marry they enter into a legal contract which may be spoken or unspoken. The traditional, urban marriage contract embodies four provisions:

      1. The husband is the head of the household;

      2. The husband is responsible for support;

      3. The wife is responsible for domestic services; and

      4. The wife is responsible for childcare, the husband for child support. (Weitzman, 1981:2)

      These provisions have traditionally formed the basis...

    • 7 Medico-legal Expertise and Industrial Disease Compensation: Discipline, Surveillance, and Disqualification in the Era of the “Social”
      (pp. 159-180)
      Chris ‘Nob’ Doran

      Recent Canadian research in the sociology of law (Boyd, 1986; Brickey and Comack, 1986; Currie and Maclean, 1986; Caputoet al., 1989; Comack and Brickey, 1991) has been primarily concerned with providing a critical, usually Marxist-informed perspective on law and the state so as to demonstrate its coercive character. Moreover, as much of this work has been concerned with criminal law (Maclean, 1986; Fleming, 1985; Comack, 1986; Hopkins, 1986; Mandel, 1986), this allows for the relatively straightforward assessment of law as a form of coercive social control.² However, such analyses have difficulties with the administrative law that grew spectacularly with...

    • 8 Confronting the Construct of Child Neglect as Maternal Failure: In Search of Peacemaking Alternatives
      (pp. 181-206)
      Sandra Wachholz

      Like many social problems that befall families, there has been no shortage of “mother blaming” in the construction of the problem of child neglect (Wedenoja, 1991). A review of the literature reveals that the problem of child neglect has largely been defined and dealt with in an individualistic and gender-specific manner. It is a social problem which has generally been constructed, as Swift (1995) underscores, “as the failure of individual mothers to carry out their mothering responsibilities” (72). Posed behind this socially structured image of child neglect as maternal failure, however, is the human face of suffering. While the vast...

  8. Part IV: Social Location and Resistance to Law

    • 9 Communities are Social: Locating Homeplace in the Sociology of Law
      (pp. 209-228)
      Audrey Sprenger

      In Margaret Laurence’sThe Diviners, a fictional autobiography, the answers to social identity rest in the last place protagonist Morag Gunn thinks to look — her homeplace, Manawaka, a small, rural town in the backwoods of Manitoba. However, it is in this revelation of place that Morag finds the possibilities for self-determination that such answers promise. As a girl growing up on Hill Street — among the poor and native — she longs to escape the filth and social stigma of her surroundings. However, although the lure of autonomy and mobility draw her to the city, none of the spoils of urban(e) life...

    • 10 The Crown Owns All the Land? The Mi’gmaq of Listuguj Resist
      (pp. 229-246)
      Melinda Martin

      “The Crown owns all the land.” This statement, made during a first-year property law course, had one aboriginal student reeling. That student was a Mohawk woman who later went on to teach law: Patricia Monture-Angus. She recounted the time she was a student, sitting in a first-year property law class and first being introduced to the concept that “The Crown owns all the land.” She said she felt as though the ceiling was crashing down on her, yet her classmates seemed unaffected as they continued to scribble in their notebooks. As a Mi’gmaq¹ woman, I know how she felt. When...

    • 11 The Persuasive Cartographer: Sexual Assault and Legal Discourse in R. v. Ewanchuk
      (pp. 247-272)
      Rebecca Johnson

      In recent years, scholars have explored the terrain of the intersecting disciplines of law and geography (Pue, 1990; Wije, 1990). Cartography — the making of maps — has emerged as a recurrent theme. Certainly, legal scholars have made effective use of the techniques of mapmaking: they have documented differential rates of crime across the country (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1996; Sacco and Johnson, 1990), revealed gaps in the provision of legal services (Economides and Blacksell, 1987; Economides, 1996), documented the ongoing prevalence of racism (Kobayashi, 1990), and demonstrated the links between race, class, and poverty in urban centres (Kirschenman and Neckerman,...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 273-276)
  10. Index
    (pp. 277-286)
  11. Index of Court Cases
    (pp. 287-287)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)