About the Reader


The Law and Identity Reader is similar to a “course pack” in that it contains: 1) Excepts of legal cases; 2) Exceprts of Social Science Readings; 3) Guiding Questions and Additional Resources. It is different than a traditional course pack in three major ways. First, it is published which allows us to secure copyright on readings that you would otherwise have to pay for the entire book (at least $200 worth in savings) and the price you pay for the Reader in part pays those authors: like bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Samuel Huntington, and so on. Second, it is a collaborative effort put together by former students, an artist (photographer/graphic designer), an my civic engagement research partner, Helen-Margaret Nasser (Master’s Degree in International Relations). Third, this Reader was carefully edited and composed based on empirical and theoretical research about democratic engagement. We utilize two imporant, progressive research methodologies: culturally responsive teaching grounded in critical race and feminist studies and critical participatory action research. In this way, we provide multiple points of view that are respectful of differences in power, culture, and positionalities in society. The Law and Identity reader seeks to present information that will help you deepen your undestanding of socio-legal studies including clashing identities, structural agency and coalition building, and self-determined collective advocacy and social change. In 2016 this material was cutting edge and we think that you will find it to be particularly relevent in these divisive times. The law as a socially constructed tool is ever present and is contested in political and private spheres locally and globally.


COVID and Learning Online.

This text was originally designed for online, face-to-face, and mixed learning environments. Hence, we were not at a loss in the transition from the classroom to online learning this past spring. However, I understand that not all students are comfortable in the new reality of online learning. Rest assured, I was an early adopter, was one of the first professors to be online certified, have taken and taught numerous online courses, and am published widely on the equitable integration of online and digital resources into educational curricula.

As a response to students in need, the initial readings are based on your primary interests and are organied into reading groups: meaning those readings and other resources relate to that group. You are welcome to read the entire Reader but you will only be graded on the group you chose. In this way, I hope the material is more manageable and we can deepen your understanding between law as an ideal (on the books) and law as it is experienced in reality (empirical- experience).

In Part 2 I have selected the readings that best explain the history and function of the Constitutional Legal Order. This is typically referred to as structure in socio-legal studies and includes: 1) the institution of law as rules and routines also called “means”; 2) the instrumentalities of law as the strategies and “moves” different actors (litigants, lawyers, judges, clerks, jurors, politicians, voters, ordinary folk, etc.) use within legal venues and civil society; and 3) ideologies or the mental models individuals and social groups construct about what they think law is and what it does as well as what it should do. Ideology is often broken down into conservative (against change) and liberal or progressive (for change) but you will find this to be a gross over-simplification that is not useful.

In Part 3 I will provide video lectures that go deeper into the readings and pull out the major principles and help you see the connections to history, philosophy, criminal justice, science, art, religion and politics. You are encouraged to re-read the readings to refresh your memory and see things a new the second time after reviewing these lectures.

The book is laid out as follows but you are welcome to skip around. If you would like to complete some of the discussion questions or the action research project you can email me and we can discuss how that will result in extra credit and what you would need to do. This is strictly optional and I can only let you complete this work after you submit the major assignments for grading.

TO get back to the assignments/”syllabus” click here.