Russians protest against Internet bill, 2019

Law, Culture and Society in Russia

Optional course open to all students interested in socio-legal studies and legal cultures of Eastern Europe and Russia

10.12.2019 at 09:00 - 13.1.2020 at 23:59


All materials and interaction go via Moodle


Here is the course’s teaching schedule. Check the description for possible other schedules.

Mon 13.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Tue 14.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Wed 15.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Thu 16.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Fri 17.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Mon 20.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Tue 21.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Wed 22.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Thu 23.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45
Fri 24.1.2020
16:15 - 17:45


The course is designed to provide an in-depth discussion and critical account on a number of socio-legal and cultural issues Russia is currently facing. We will be looking at legal culture as a part of social process Russia has been undergoing in the Post-Soviet context aiming at examining and understanding current issues with human rights, conservative turn and neo-liberalisation in various spheres of society.
Law is a common and yet distinct aspect of everyday life in modern societies. This course examines the central features of law as a social institution in its various aspects: popular culture, politics, social relationships, gender and sexuality, power, etc. We will explore the functioning of law as a set of power relations, central actors in the legal system, legal reasoning, and the relationship of the legal form and resistance to bring about social change. The course emphasizes the relationship between the internal logic of legal devices and economic, political and social processes. Emphasis is placed upon developing a perspective which views law as a practical resource, a mechanism for handling the widest range of unspecified social issues, problems, and conflicts, and at the same time, as a set of shared representations and aspirations.
We will explore the range of experiences of law for its ministers (lawyers, judges, law enforcement agents and administrators) as well as for its supplicants (citizens, plaintiffs, defendants). We will examine how law is mobilized and deployed by professionals and ordinary citizens. The course focuses on law in relation to other facets of social life, such as gender, power, politics, etc. A set of topics has been selected to develop understanding of the situational and systemic demands within which actors in the legal system operate and perform their roles. At the same time, we will discover systematic patterns in the uses and consequences of law.
More specific goals include:
• Understanding of social science views on justice and the law throughout history and across the Globe;
• Being able to apply social theories of law to historical and contemporary situations in the Russian society’s dealings with legal conflicts and justice;
• Comprehension and application of critical evaluation of law in Russia, its role in reproduction of the status-quo or social changes;
• Discussion of law’s relationship to a variety of social categories such as gender, class, and sexuality in current Russia.
Core content:
Class 1. Historical Roots of the Russian Law. What is Law and what does it do?
Class 2. Are all Russian nihilists? The Russian legal culture.
Class 3. Transitional Justice: Quo Vadis?
Class 4. Spaces of Law and Legal Practice: Between Court and the Streets;
Class 5. Law and Social Control: Cultures of Public and Private;
Class 6. Cultural Dimensions of Law;
Class 7. Law, Sexuality and Gender;
Class 8. Law and Violence;
Class 9. Law and Popular culture: Who’s a Good Police(wo)man?
Class 10. Students’ conference: Changing Legal Culture

Conduct of the course

This course is a team teaching collaborative course. The course uses problem-based learning and suggests active student involvement and preparation to each class. The structure of the class is: introductory lecture following discussion and group-based activities for students to be able to apply lecture material to problem-solving. The course also includes project-based work (individual research paper) to help students gain in-depth knowledge on one of the major issues covered by the course. The course is skills-based and focused on students learning via problem-solving and critical thinking methods. The course is concluded with the student’s conference, which allows students to present their work, participate in discussion of their peer’s work and develop peer-review skills.


Master level course. Optional course for students of master´s programme in Law and International Business Law. Optional Course for students of master´s programme in Russian Studies. Suitable for exchange students.

Students are acquainted with other themes and topics related to Russian Studies.

A course arranged by the University of Helsinki or other university.