This chapter analyzes the legal consciousness of ordinary citizens by examining how experiences with and legal attitudes toward offensive public speech vary by race, gender, and class. Legal consciousness research examines the role of law and its role in constructing understandings, affecting actions, and shaping various aspects of social life. Offensive public speech is a compelling context in which to explore legal consciousness. Both attitudes about and experiences with offensive public speech are complex. The unstructured portions of the interviews reveal that respondents offered four "paradigms" for opposing the legal regulation of offensive public speech. The four paradigms are the freedom of speech paradigm, the autonomy paradigm, the impracticably paradigm, and the distrust of authority paradigm. Examining the links between people's experiences with street harassment and their attitudes about its legal regulation can shed light on the roots and consequences of the "legal consciousness" of different social groups.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)