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Abstract from

From Law to ‘Legal Consciousness’: A Socio-legal Pedagogical Expedition

Susanne Davies is the convenor of Legal Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University. An historian by training, her teaching, research and writing interests span critical criminology, punishment and penality, cultural studies, socio-legal history, and gender and sexuality studies.

She is the co-editor of two volumes, A Nation of Rogues: Crime, Law and Punishment in Colonial Australia (MUP) and Harsh Punishment: International Experiences of Women’s Imprisonment (Northeastern University Press, Boston).

This article considers socio-legal studies as a distinct field of teaching and learning. It takes as its starting point the emergence and development of the Department of Legal Studies at La Trobe University in the early 1970s, situating it within the broader contexts of educational, social and institutional change. As a case study, the La Trobe experience provides a framework for identifying those characteristics that have come to distinguish the socio-legal approach. It also offers a unique insight into the many challenges and possibilities involved in incorporating into educational practice a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to law and legal issues. The discussion concludes with a discussion of ‘legal consciousness’ as a threshold concept for teaching socio-legal studies today.

(2013) 29(2) Law in Context 42

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