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University of California Davis Sociology of Law Paper

One of the goals of the course is to reveal how the law can be used as a mechanism of oppression of already disadvantaged groups which perpetuates the stratification of power. This process becomes evident through case studies of specific legal codes, aspects of the legal process, and other avenues of discrimination that people face within the legal system.


For this paper, I would like you to find your own examples of laws that serve as mechanisms to perpetuate inequality. This inequality could come from the way the law targets certain groups, criminalizes certain behaviors associated with disadvantaged groups, or has a disproportionate negative impact over a given population. Please note, you are not able to use any of the laws that we covered/will cover throughout this course. If you have questions about how well a law could fit, please reach out to myself or our TA.


• Minimum six pages, papers below the minimum will be docked

• MLA or ASA format

• Minimum of six sources and at least three of them have to be academic, only one of your sources can come from the course readings

• Submitted via canvas

• Final draft due by 11:59pm

• Late work subject to penalization unless extenuating circumstances arise

Things to keep in mind:

• Your paper needs to utilize outside research to effectively demonstrate the discriminatory impact of the laws.

• Students can do a deeper dive of a single law or analyze a variety of laws that are similarly situated (for instance the black codes we talked about in class).

• You should provide some context on why the law(s) were created. Was this in response to perceived power gains of a power minority group? What sort of rhetoric was used to justify the need for the law(s)?

• This is a sociology paper, so it should reflect sociological thinking and utilize concepts from the discipline. The reader should have a clear understanding that you have attended class, done the course readings, and have a strong understanding of the course materials.

• The expectations on this paper will be quite high. As a UCD student in an upper division sociology class, you should present a paper that is devoid of grammatical errors, effectively argues your points with evidence to support your claims and should be well articulated and organized. This means that you should have something amazing by the end of the process that you would be proud to show a perspective grad school, future employer, or gam-gam.

Students will be graded on:

• How effectively they demonstrate the impact of the legal code(s)

• Integration of outside sources to support their points

• Utilization of course concepts and perspectives

• Demonstration of an understanding of the sociological perspective

• Clear articulation of their points and organization of their paper

• Following the formatting guidelines and prompt instructions

• How well they make the case that a given law fits as an example of the law being used to perpetuate power inequality


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