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The PhD in Socio-Legal Studies is the first doctoral program in Canada in interdisciplinary legal studies that is not based in a law school. While the academic foundation for our program rests on the contributions of scholars from a number of different disciplines, its scholarship can be distinguished from these disciplinary approaches by its greater attention to theory, methods, and substantive areas that focus on law and legal regulation as prime objects of investigation.

Research and teaching in the program are organized around three (3) core fields. They reflect the diverse teaching and research of Socio-Legal Studies, and the strong analytical and theoretical orientation of the program, while allowing for student research in a variety of substantive topic areas.

Substantive Top Areas

Central to this field is the recognition that law and society are mutually constitutive, that is, law is not an external force to which society is subject but, rather, represents a dynamic set of codes, practices, categories and deliberations that both shape and are shaped by broader social, political, and economic logics, contexts and relations. Theoretical perspectives on the relationship between law and society are informed by sociology, history, philosophy, economics, anthropology, political science, and psychology.

Analysis of contemporary modes of security, regulation, and governance, their intersections with various forms of law, and their role in shaping individual and collective practices, identities, and fortunes through designations of illegality, criminality, and disorder. Included within this field is a wide range of substantive areas including, but not limited to: transnational policing; financial crime; immigration and borders; and police, courts and corrections.

Studies of the variations of law across time, place and culture. Included are various approaches to the social history of law and legal regulation, as well as the analysis of indigenous forms of law, human rights regimes, and both national and transnational forms of regulation and policing.

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The Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.