May 24, 2017
Haines 279
Tala Oszkay

The UCLA Department of Sociology Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series Contentious Politics and Organizations Working Group is pleased to present:

Scott Cummings (Professor of Law, UC Los Angeles): "The Empirical Path of Law and Social Movements"

This paper charts the development of “law and social movements” as an interdisciplinary field in the social sciences. Based on a systematic review of a half-century of social science research in political science and sociology, the paper traces the development of two major scholarly divisions. First, it shows how, within social scientific studies of law and social movements, analysis of the causes and processes of mobilization (referred to as means research) is generally divided from the study of the impact of that mobilization on society (referred to as ends research). Second, this paper shows how research on law (understood as legal mobilization and adjudication) develops separately from research on politics (understood in in terms of institutional political activity, such as lobbying and policy formation, and noninstitutional activity, in the form of social movement mobilization). The main contribution of this intellectual history to show how the field of law and social movements has been shaped by pre-existing conceptual frameworks and patterns of debate in the underlying social science. The key point is that, as social science on law and social movements begins to interact with legal scholarship, it carries with it significant theoretical and empirical divisions about the relation of collective mobilization to social change. Thus, when the field of “law and social movements” develops, it does so not simply by borrowing concepts and findings from social science, but taking sides in debates.

The Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Ray Ross in memory of his wife.