Law and Social Transformation

The law as a key influence in shaping the social order and modern world. 

This course addresses the way in which the law is a key influence in shaping social orders and the modern world, and the way in which it orients and shapes social attitudes, behaviours and value frameworks. We begin with an understanding of political sovereignty as a cornerstone of modern society, and early imaginations of the law in nineteenth century jurisprudence. We then examine social movements and action groups and their engagement with the law to pursue their goals for advocacy and specific issues, especially around civil liberties and human rights, using the Narmada Bachao Andolan as an example. With the backdrop of social movements, we study lawyering as a practice – progressive, pro bono and insurgent, and judicial activism and the way in which the courts have shaped social change. Using the examples of India and South Africa, we examine how transformative constitutionalism” has emerged, and if social injustices can be remedied through constitutional means. This course includes lectures, readings, discussions and audio-visuals and debate around case studies.