Sociology of Law


Enable the student to:

1)  critically analyze concepts and principles of the main theories of sociology of law.

2) based on these theories, analyze socio-political-legal contemporary problems.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Soraya Nour Sckell


Weekly - 3

Total - 36

Teaching language



Not Applicable


Lesson 1: Introduction

Lesson 2 : MARX, Karl. The German Ideology. Part 1 - Feuerbach, 1-3.

Lesson 3 : WEBER, Max. Economy and Society: an outline of interpretative sociology . Berkeley, University of California Press, 1978; vol. II, VIII - The formal Qualities of Modern Law, p. 880-900.

Lesson 4 : DURKHEIM, Émmile. "Review of Richard's Essay on the Origins of the Idea of Law". In: Durkheim and the Law , ed. by Steven Lukes and Andrew Scull. Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd ed. 2013 ("L'originne de l'idée du droit", 1883), p. 164-176.

Lesson 5: KELSEN, Hans. The Conception of the State and Social Psychology: With Special Reference to Freud's Group Theory.

Lesson 6: FOUCAULT, Michel, "Governmentality". In: The Foucault effect : studies in governmentality , ed. by Graham Burchell and Peter Miller. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1991 ("La gouvernementalité", in: Dits et Écrits, vol. III)

Lesson 7: Test

Lesson 8: LUHMANN, Niklas. Law as a social system. Oxford University Press, 2004 [1993]. Chapter 12: Society and its law.

Lesson 9: HABERMAS, Jürgen, Between Facts and Norms. Contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachussets, 1996. Chapter 2: Concepts of Sociology of Law and Philosophy of Justice.

Lesson 10: BOURDIEU, Pierre. "The Force of Law: Toward a Sociology of the Juridical Field", The Hastings Law Journal, 1987, 38, p. 814-853.

Lesson 11: BALIBAR, Etienne. "Ontological Difference, Anthropological Difference, and Equal Liberty", in: European Journal of Philosophy

Teaching method

Critical analysis of the concepts and principles of the main theories of sociology of law. In this critical analysis, it is necessary to contextualize, compare and demonstrate the scope and relevance of these theories (objective 1), applying them to contemporary legal and socio-political issues at the local, European, international and global levels (objective 2). The class will consist of the teacher's exposition, the exposition of student groups and practical exercises to analyze the studied texts.

Evaluation method

1) Other Elements

2) Final exam: for those who have not made "Other Elements" or wish a better score.


1) Other Elements: 2 components

1.1) First component: Test

a) Each test is of 5 marks

b) Three-hour exercice, by Moodle, with consultation on the texts studied in the 5 previous sessions.

c) Example of the type of question: "Analyze the following sentence by Weber: ...".

d) The student must answer 5 questions at all (each question, one mark).


1.2) Second component: ESSAY

a) The essay (in group or individual) is of 10 marks.

b) The evaluation will be made only to the essay, but only the essay of those who made the oral presentation will be considered.

c) Date of delivery of the essay: one week after the last day of class.

d) Essay structure:

Introduction (1.5 mark). Presentation of the question to be investigated and the structure of the essay.

Part 1: Historical and theoretical context (1.5 mark).

Part 2: Fundamental general concepts of the author (1.5 mark). Ex: concept of "field" for Bourdieu.

Part 3: Fundamental juridical concepts of the author (1.5 mark). Ex: concept of "legal field" for Bourdieu.

Part 4: Reception (uses of this author by other authors (1,5 mark). Ex: The reception of Bourdieu's concept of "legal field" by Orlando Villas-Boas Filho.


Conclusion (1.5 points). Critical analysis. Ex: what is the importance of Bourdieu's concept of legal field today? Application of the theory to a contemporary socio-political-legal problem.

If everything is done exceptionally: 1 mark.


2) Final Exam

a) The Final Exam is of 20 marks.

b) Exam of three hours on the studied texts.

c) Questions in several, different formats. Exemple: ¿Compare the concept of habitus (Bourdieu) with the concept of ¿communicative action¿ (Habermas).  

d) The student must answer 5 questions in all, each of 4 values and referring to 2 or more of the studied texts.

e) It is recommended that each analysis has around one page. In the case of the page with the header sheet, a little more.


Correction Grid of Exercise and Exam:

An analysis should contain:

a) the formulation of the problem to be analyzed,

b) its development,

c) and a personal position,

d) theoretically based, that is, based on the theoretical concepts and theories of the studied authors.

A problematic analyzes what is said in the sentence from something that is not said in the sentence (an idea, a concept, a theory, a criticism ...).


Ex: "Jurists are the hypocritical guardians of collective hypocrisy, that is, of the respect for the universal. The verbal respect that is universally granted to the universal is an extraordinary social force and, as everyone knows, those who manage to have the universal at their side are endowed with a significant social force" (Pierre Bourdieu, The jurists, guardians of collective hypocrisy). Possible problems:


- The codification of law according to Bourdieu: production of rationalization, universalization, normalization and hypocrisy.

- Universal reason: a priori, historical or hypocritical? An analysis with Bourdieu

Subject matter

Lesson 1: Introduction

Lesson 2: Karl Marx

Lesson 3: Max Weber

Lesson 4: Emmile Durkheim.

Lesson 5: Hans Kelsen

Lesson 6: Michel Foucault

Lesson 7 : Test

Lesson 8: Niklas Luhmann

Lesson 9: Jürgen Habermas

Lesson 10: Pierre Bourdieu.

Lesson 11 : Balibar

Lesson 12 : Test


Programs where the course is taught: