Fox2019a

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Fox2019a
BibType ARTICLE
Key Fox2019a
Author(s) Matthew P. Fox
Title Legal Consciousness in Action: Lay People and Accountability in the Jury Room
Editor(s)
Tag(s) EMCA, In press, Accounts, Legal discourse, Decision-making, Jury deliberation, Legal consciousness, Legal invocation
Publisher
Year 2019
Language English
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Journal Qualitative Sociology
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Pages
URL Link
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-019-09422-2
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Organization
Institution
School
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Howpublished
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Abstract

This paper argues that lay people’s legal consciousness, defined as how they experience and interpret the law and legal meanings, can be studied by observing natural conversation. It proposes a framework that analyzes the contexts when law is invoked to account for social behavior, which enables examination of individuals’ perceptions of law through their utilization of and reactions to it. This framework is applied to recordings of a jury deliberation, an ideal setting due to its institutionally-controlled conditions. The analysis demonstrates that jurors wield law as a conversational resource to create distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate conduct based upon their endogenous understandings of these boundaries. The invocation of law is an important element of the deliberation because it permits jurors to enforce these distinctions and understand their completed duties as aligning with the legal system’s ideals. This paper also discusses the ability of this framework to study the law’s influence in other social institutions, as well as those institutions’ own “consciousness.”

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