Sociology/Criminal Justice 453: Sociology of Law


The Paper will be an 8 page, double-spaced paper (1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font).   Any text beyond 8 pages will not be read !  First, let’s review what you should have completed already:


In Step 1, you thought of a social inequality topic, and one example of how the ‘haves’ come out ahead from your own experience, a case or statute you have read, the newspaper, current events, or from research/reading you have done.


In Step 2, you used 3 empirical social science sources you found outside of class to show that your example is part of a broader pattern of ‘haves’ coming out ahead rather than an isolated incident.  Your 3 additional empirical sources are works of social science that are published in peer-reviewed journal articles or academic book presses (NOT law reviews). These sources must be written by social scientists who conducted original empirical research.  Therefore, you showed me your sources to confirm that it will count as one of your 3 empirical sources.


In Sept 3, you found 1 Law Review Article to help you develop your own legal reform.


Now, it is time to write your completed paper!  First, you will take the summary you wrote in Step 1 and use that as the beginning of your paper.  By doing this, you will clearly be introducing your chosen social inequality and the specific real example that illustrates that inequality at the beginning of your paper.


Second, you will use the summaries of your empirical sources from Step 2 to build your argument.  Your use of sources will be assessed by how relevant the sources are to your chosen topic and how effectively you are able to use the empirical findings in those sources to support your example.  Each time you explain a source, you also want to explain how that source connects to the micro-example you used at the beginning of the paper (i.e., you want to make it clear that the results of that research article are showing that your micro-example is not an isolated incident but actually is representative of a broader pattern in society).  Using a source to report a simple statistic will not earn as many points as explaining the topic, methods, and results of the sources. (Note: You also may use any relevant readings & materials from class if you think they strengthen your argument that your micro-example is really a macro-level problem, but those materials will not count among your 3 outside sources).


Third, you will use your summary of your Law Review Article in Step 3 to help you develop your own legal reform.  You will use your Step 3 summary to show your reader what one scholar has said, but you ultimately should be using that scholar’s work to help you make your own normative argument.  The key question you are answering is: What legal reforms would you propose to alter this advantage, if any?  The novelty of your proposed legal reforms will be assessed by how thoroughly your reforms address and challenge the systematic advantages of the ‘haves’.  Your proposal should show how you intend to minimize the differences between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and should be innovative, comprehensive, and detailed. Your reforms also should illustrate creativity, originality, and awareness of how you would handle obstacles to your reform.  You must rely on at least 1 scholarly opinion in a Law Review Article, but do not merely reiterate the normative views of the scholar. Instead, use and cite the author’s work to further your own reform agenda.  If you decide either that there is no possible legal reform for your chosen topic or that nothing should be done to alter the advantage of the ‘haves’, you still must explain your position in light of relevant readings & materials from class plus your 3 other empirical sources described in the prior paragraph.


You must cite the scholarly sources appropriately in your paper and include a bibliography at the end of your paper.  The bibliography will not count as part of the paper length.


Point assessment:

4 points: Relevance and description of the chosen example

12 points: Novelty of the suggested legal reform

10 points: Quality and quantity of use of sources

4 points: Style (Clarity of Writing, Use of Section Headings & Paragraphs, Grammar, Spelling, etc.)


30 points: TOTAL