ANT 324L • Social Norms and the Law
11:30 AM-12:30 PM
This course will explore the interaction and interdependence of social norms and formal legal rules. Norms provide social rules, distinct from formal laws, of expected behavioral responses to particular situations and back up those expectations with the threat of negative sanction if an individual behaves inappropriately. We will examine issues such as: To what degree do different legal rules harness, enhance, displace, or subvert the substance of particular social norms and what effects follow? Should we utilize legal rules only when social norms fail to control harmful behavior? How do particular norms develop and then expand or dissipate in their influence over time and in different settings? Are norms typically generated through a widespread consensus of the members of a society, or are they the product of special interests? We will explore these issues using examples from various areas of legal doctrine, such as property, contracts and bargaining, crime, torts, and taxation. Evaluation for this course will be based on active participation in discussions, short writing assignments, and a final exam including essay questions. No prerequisites required.