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Law and Society

The study of law has been central to sociology since the beginning of the discipline, and for good reason. What a society decides to call a crime or presumes is deviant behavior, how it exacts punishment, and the nature of its courts and legal profession are important in their own right and  also provide key windows into the broader society.   For example, it is impossible to understand fully how business organizations operate nor the characteristics and health of a democracy (or any other political system), nor the nature and extent of social inequalities, including those of race, class and gender, nor how people think about fairness, justice, their broader culture or even themselves without some knowledge of law. 

With a critical mass of faculty specializing in the sociology of law and/or criminology and deviance, Purdue Sociology’s Law and Society program offers both breadth and depth.  Emphasizing coursework, one-on-one mentoring, and research opportunities that prepare students to succeed in the job market, the program enables graduate students to develop their own research and teaching skills in the sociology of law and criminology. As well, the Purdue Program emphasizes the links between these areas of specialization and other areas of study in the program, including inequality (race class and gender), politics and social movements, the family and life-course, work and organizations, religion, and social psychology.   Faculty members have expertise in a large number of quantitative and qualitative methods, and some have formal legal training to complement their sociological expertise.


Spencer Headworth, Elizabeth Hoffmann, Brian Kelly, David McElhattan and Robin Stryker