MAY 14

By Dawn Bennett,2014-07-04 08:05
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May 14, 2012

     Legal culture and legal behavior

     People have varying degrees of knowledge about the law; Form attitudes towards legal institutions and the law; Develop patterns of behavior in relation to law Legal culture: public knowledge and attitudes about law Ideas, values, expectations, and attitudes towards law and legal institutions

     Ideas behavior

     Legal culture: Collective, shared meaning of law

     Legal consciousness: attitudes toward law

     Legal culture

     Both the ideas of elites and “ordinary people” toward law

     Changes in attitudes Changes in law

     Changes in law Changes in attitudes

     Claim: Law can only be understood within a particular cultural context

    ; Counterclaim: Universal principles?

     Different cultural values in different contexts

    ; But, contact between cultures leads to adaptation

    ; American legal culture

    ; Contradictory attitudes toward the law

    ; Venerate (hold in high esteem)

    ; Hostile to lawyers, legal proceedings

    ; Hostile to State intervention in lives

    ; Rights talk but not necessarily sue

    ; Litigious or not?

     Studies: people try to resolve grievances without confrontation, without resorting to

    formal legal action

     Or, adversarial legalism:

    ; Nature of our political system encourages litigation Questions to ask:

    ; Are there more lawsuits today than in the past?

    ; Are there more lawyers?

    ; Why?

    ; Is there more interest in “total justice” (expectation for complete redress of


    ; Fear of crime, harsher criminal sentences?

    ; Good and bad elements of American legal culture:

    ; Good includes:

    ; Spread of due process rights

    ; Laws against discrimination

    ; No-fault divorce

    ; Bad includes:

    ; Ongoing oppression and discrimination

    ; Social inequality

    ; Tolerance of some forms of violence

    ; Law can both legitimate existing inequalities and provide means for resisting and

    challenging domination

    ; American legal subcultures

     Take account of cultural pluralism:

    ; People with different cultural values living within a single legal system

    ; Tensions:

    ; Dominant/minority culture

    ; Diverse cultural practices

    ; Formal legal equality/according some members different status

    ; Law: reflects dominant group and geared towards assimilation Also recognizes differences

    ; Amish education

    ; English as only language

    ; Different subcultures and attitudes toward law and legal institutions

    ; Middle class; Occupy movement; African- Americans Law, community, identity

     U.S.: number coexisting (and overlapping) subcultures of attitudes and values re: law

     Community: our social existence

    ; Need to orient self toward laws, rules, norms of each community to which we


    ; May be conflicting demands

    ; Gallop, 2005

     Community, continued

     Insiders and outsiders

     Current day: celebration of community

     To a fault? identity politics

    ; Which memberships should/should not matter Making laws

     Why do laws get made?

    ; Consensus

    ; Radical

    ; Pluralist

    ; Public demands and moral entrepreneurs

     Judges and executive branch

     Law and language

     Law as communication

    ; Words interpretation and debate over meaning

    ; Need to master a new language

    ; Often, literally (learn Latin phrases)

    ; Language and ideology

    ; Semiotics language:

    ; Is value-laden (not neutral)

    ; Structures thought

    ; Is a discourse

    ; Known by elites

     The media

    ; Selective communication; incomplete knowledge about new laws

    ; Understanding shaped by mass media (i.e. tort tales)

    ; Coverage of trials

    ; Legal narratives:

    ; Stories

     Legal socialization

     Conform to rules and expectations of society

     Acquire attitudes and values of one’s primary groups

     How: taught specific lessons about content and purpose of law

    ; Home and school, media

    ; Children: law and morality connected

     Legal consciousness

     Everyday understanding of law

     Function of belief and values (not law on books, necessarily) Ewick and Silbey: The Common Place of Law: Stories From Everyday Life

     Legal behavior

     Why obey the law? Socialization

     Conformity, obedience, deterrence

     Legitimization of system

     Why is the system seen as valid and deserving of our support?

    ; Because of socialization, legal consciousness, legal culture

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