LAW 690

Race, Social Psychology, and the Legal Process

Critical Race Studies

Issues of race and racial inequality have shaped American history and continue to be at the forefront of debates about justice, fairness, and equality. The legal system has developed particular approaches to resolving issues involving race. These approaches are built on assumptions about how people do, and should, think about race, how race shapes human interaction, and correspondingly how the law should regulate such issues (both substantively and procedurally). This course investigates the claim that the law's account of whether,how, and why race matters in a given context is often incomplete, and may not always be the most compelling account. Drawing largely on research in the fields of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Social Psychology, this course analyzes a subset of legal topics in which race can play a prominent role (issues may include, for example, criminal and civil procedure, employment discrimination, and affirmative action). It applies findings from both fields to analyze and critique the assumptions underlying existing legal doctrine, and to think about alternative approaches and their potential implications. The course will also evaluate possible interdisciplinary synergies between law and social psychology, as well as potential points of conflict.

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