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 SSC 171 - Law, Society and Justice



As the Fall 2015 Law, Society and Justice course starts, the world has been confronted by the Greek financial crisis and Greece’s position in the Eurozone.

An issue like Greece’s Euro-crisis forms a good illustration of the three perspectives of the law taken in this course. First, there are legal, descriptive questions e.g. which conditions need to be fulfilled should a country wish to become member of the EU and the Eurozone, under what body of law does membership fall, who decides as to whether a country can join the EU.

A second perspective focuses upon the relationship between law and society. To what extent and how can law bring about social change? How are societal changes reflected in law? In the 3 case of Greece: what social developments explain the financial crisis and the inability of Greece to pay off debts for which they have signed legal contracts? How can the law be changed in order to provide more financial security to EU member states? How can the law be changed in order to prevent an exit out of the Eurozone?

Third, normative discussions flood the newspapers: should the international community, become involved in Greece’s financial crisis? Should they have a say as to whether they can force Greece out of the Eurozone? Should future EU treaties include laws on how to expel EU member states from the Eurozone?


The course thus offers three different perspectives to the law: the legal-descriptive, the socioscientific and the normative. We spend the first part of the course exploring the different understandings of law in a general sense and the definitions of the law. We take a quick look at the different legal systems of the world. In this part we also discuss various fields of law: civil law, criminal law, constitutional, administrative law and human rights. After the Fall break, the course deals with the relationship between law and society and the concept of justice. Besides discussing the main principles within each field of law, we explore them through reading case law, visiting the International criminal court and the International Court of Justice, conducting interviews with legal practitioners and conducting a moot court session. Students will also work on either an individual paper or a group project to research a subject relating to the three perspectives on the law.



Required​ for

This course is required in order to take the following courses:

  • All 200-level Law courses
  • All 300-level Law courses

This course is an alternative requirement for the following courses:

  • SSC 231 Anthropology and the Study of Politics
  • SSC 312 Contemporary Latin American Social Theory ​

SSC171 - Moot court .jpg
Moot Court

SSC171 - Visit Peace Palace.jpg
Visit to the Vredespaleis in The Hague