Legal Consciousness

Legal consciousness is a term used in sociolegal studies to consider the role that law plays in everyday life. It is different from legal awareness, which refers to individuals thinking about the place of law in their lives. Legal consciousness, by contrast, often involves individuals engaging with law in the everyday without necessarily reflecting upon law. Legal consciousness scholars are interested not only in how law shapes people’s lives, but also how people interact with law, how they engage with law, and how the social world shapes law as much as law shapes the social world. They are also interested in who is privileged, and who is marginalized by law.

Legal consciousness scholars describe three ways in which individuals engage with law: before the law, ...

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