Law, Power, and Injustice: Confronting the Legacies of Sociolegal Research
The year 2004 marks the 40th anniversary of the Law and Society Association, an anniversary that corresponds to the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, and the 60th anniversary of the publication of Myrdal’s American Dilemma. Those events raised critical issues about the relationship between law, power, and injustice, and about the role that law and society scholarship can and should play in efforts at social change. What can we learn from these experiences and those in other areas of the world? How do global developments—from the collapse and reemergence of colonialism to the Cold War competition between capitalism and socialism; from the rise of new international frameworks on human rights to new conflicts on world trade; from tensions between the “rule of law” and the “war on terrorism” aid our understanding of the relationship between law and power?
The theme of this year’s meeting asks for a critical examination of the legacy of law and society scholarship in the context of new challenges to it. How do we now think of the momentous events whose anniversary we share? Were they liberatory moments that fundamentally altered patterns of social injustice, primarily symbolic achievements, mechanisms for legitimizing new forms of inequality or some combination? How well have the traditional methods and epistemologies of social science served to understand these issues, compared to new approaches such as critical feminist, race, and cultural studies? We invite papers and panels that look to the past and to the future on these or other themes important to law and society scholarship.