The University of Wisconsin Press



Social Science in Court
Mobilizing Experts in the School Desegregation Cases
Mark A. Chesler, Joseph Sanders, and Debra S. Kalmuss

The 1954 landmark school desegregation decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education, was part of one of the most extensive and tumultuous social/legal movements in the nation’s history. The authors of this study employ the school desegregation movement to examine the role of social scientists, and social science, in the litigation process. Covering seventeen desegregation cases in litigation after 1970, they bring together the perspectives of judges, lawyers, and social scientists in a work sure to be of interest to all concerned with the court process, public policy, applied social science, conflict resolution, and the continuing process of school integration.

The authors focus not only on the legal issues but also on the broader issues of conflict resolution, managed social change, and the public role of social science. They first provide a chronicle of the events leading up to the Brown case, and then a thorough and detailed analysis of the social science expert witnesses called upon to testify in the desegregation cases that followed. In the course of their research, they interviewed 90 scientists who appeared as witnesses, 70 lawyers who tried these cases for both plaintiff and defense groups, and 10 trial judges who presided in the cases. No other study has been so broadly encompassing, both in the number of cases and in the span of time involved.


Mark A. Chesler was, at the time of publication, professor in the department of sociology at the University of Michigan. Joseph Sanders was associate professor of law at the University of Houston. Debra S. Kalmuss was associate professor of public health at Columbia University.


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December 1988
LC: 88-006088 KF
300 pp.   6 x 9
28 illus.
ISBN-10: 0-299-11620-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-11620-0
Cloth $45.00 s

ISBN-10: 0-299-11624-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-11624-8
Paper $18.95 s

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