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Spring 2009 - Social Movements & Legal Change

Torres, Gerald

Course ID: 397S  Unique # 28889  Credit Hours: 3
Meeting DaysTimesLocation
   Thursday 12:30 pm - 2:20 pm TNH 3.114
Exam Type   Date   Time      Name Range   Room  
Registration Information
This course is restricted to upper division students only.

This seminar will study the relationship between social movements and legal change through an investigation of the environmental movement.  We will use historical, sociological and legal materials.  Legislation, regulation, and litigation are often viewed as the primary tools for producing social change in our society.  Yet many commentators have noted that legal rule shifting is rarely sufficient to produce sustainable social change.  In order to create stable change any rule shifting must be accompanied by a deep cultural shift.  Another way to conceive of our task is to ask:  How do social and political movements facilitate the creation of social meaning and how is that meaning reflected in the technical application of the law?

Some questions we will discuss include:

1.  What are the origins of social movements? Is there an adequate typology of social movements? What are the typical phases or evolution of social movements? 2.  Is (or was) the U.S.  "environmental movement" a true social movement? 3.  How does the "environmental movement" compare and contrast with the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the property rights movement or any other major social movement? 4.  How does all this relate to the evolution of environmental laws? 5.  In light of our analysis, what does this portend for the future of environmentalism?

Because of the controversy raised by Shellenberger and Nordhaus (The Death of Environmentalism) and the response (The Soul of Environmentalism), one overarching topic is whether the concept of an "environmental" movement is passi or wrong.  If a movement is required what shall it be?

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