The legal transformation of political movements
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The Legal Transformation of Political Movements Sociology 641 Political Movements Definition: A collectively-organized effort, by large numbers of participants, to change existing social structures and establish a new ordering of social life. A.K.A: “Social Movement”

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Political Movements

  • Definition: A collectively-organized effort, by large numbers of participants, to change existing social structures and establish a new ordering of social life.

  • A.K.A: “Social Movement”

  • Political Movements are complex streams of events that often change as they unfold.

  • Institutional contexts may shape movement trajectories and outcomes.


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Questions for Sociology of Law

  • What kinds of impacts does the law have on political movements?

  • What are the implications for a political movement of choosing to pursue a legal strategy?


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Relationships between Law and Political Movements

  • Law as an Outcome of Politics

  • Law as a Tool of Politics

  • Law as an Arena of Politics

  • Law as Constitutive of Politics.


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Law as an Outcome of Politics

  • Many political movements are, in part, efforts to change the law

  • Law as dependent variable

  • But seeking legal outcomes can affect movement development

    • Influence of lawyers

    • Emphasis on rights

    • Focus on the state


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Law as a Tool of Politics

  • Defensive: to lock-in a victory

    • Constituency-building

    • Taken-for-grantedness

  • Offensive: to build a coalition

    • Legal endorsement

    • Moral allies


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Law as an Arena of Politics

  • Agenda-setting

    • Access

    • Framing

  • The megaphone metaphor revisited

    • A megaphone with “reverb”


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Law as Constitutive of Politics

  • Politics reflects …

    • Identities and allegiances

    • Interests and values

    • Capacities for political action

  • These may not be purely exogenous to legal institutions


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Summary

  • Law as an outcomes/objective

     Influence of lawyers

    • Emphasis on rights

    • Focus on the state

  • Law as a tool

    • Constituencies and commitments

  • Law as an arena

    • Narrowing, refocusing and individualizing grievances

    • Gradualism, incrementalism

  • Law as constitutive

    • Group identities

    • Political interests

    • Action capacities


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