Legal Theory, Legal History, & the Social Sciences

Law & Social Theory

The relationship between society and law is a complex and intriguing one, so it’s not surprising that at NYU Law it is viewed through the lenses of multiple disciplines—criminology, sociology, and anthropology, to name a few.

The Law School has several faculty who have PhDs in sociology as well as law degrees, such as David Garland and Ryan Goodman. Garland is widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost sociologists focusing on crime and punishment. Goodman, who served as the special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense from 2015-16, has published articles in leading law reviews and has also co-authored several books, including Socializing States: Promoting Human Rights Through International Law. 

Other faculty whose scholarship focuses on law and society include Frank Upham and Oscar Chase. Upham’s book Law and Social Change in Postwar Japan is generally viewed as the standard reference for discussions of Japanese law and its social and political role in contemporary Japan. Chase's book Law, Culture, and Ritual: Disputing Systems in Cross-Cultural Context explores how culture and disputing institutions interrelate, and he has led the Colloquium on Culture and the Law, which examined how legal systems both reflect the cultures in which they operate and change them. Carol Gilligan, a leader in feminist theory and the author of the landmark book In A Different Voice teaches a seminar with David Richards on resisting injustice. Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes also do work in law and social theory.


Core Faculty