Chapter 13 Sociology of legal consciousness and hegemony
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In this chapter, we first address the two paths of legal consciousness research: one stream relying on the actor as the unit of analysis and the explanation, the other focusing on the institution, synthesizing across the diverse empirical accounts to model the structure of legality. We animate this discussion with some recent critiques concerning the role of collectivities as productive sites of legal consciousness, offering examples from current research to illustrate the importance of site-specific studies. We then focus on points of contestation and confusion concerning the meanings of consciousness, ideology and hegemony. In the final section, we identify more recent work mapping the relations among social fields, capitals, and habitus to better address the fundamental question of how the multitude of interactions that form everyday life come to assume the unity and consistency we recognize as a social structure, and as a durable institution. Legal consciousness is a reciprocal process in which the meanings given by social actors (both individual and collective) to their world become patterned, stabilized, and objectified. These meanings, once institutionalized, become part of the material and discursive systems that limit and constrain future meaning making. By virtue of being institutionalized, these systems are resilient, but not invulnerable to critique and change.

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