Legal Consciousness and Law as Narrative:
- Where does law come from?
- Natural law
- Legal Positivism
- Law and morality
- Law and Justice
- Critical analysis
- Ewick & Silbey
• Law is autonomous (own institution, sets its own guidelines, isn’t influenced by anything
• Law acts independently in society
• Law is unaffected and unperverted
• Law on a mountaintop – separation = justice?
• Law as part of society – context – law as it is lived
• Different societies produce different kinds of law
• Capitalism and democracy
• Whether law is above society or integral part of what makes society work
• Law is inevitable, very black and white, just like gravity, in society its an idea that law is
• Law cant be contaminated by people, its separate from us, some how magical because
it transcends us.
• How are law and everyday life work together?
• Different societies produce different types of laws
• Capitalism – people who have and people who don’t have – belief In free market, free
opportunity. Idea that this system has mandatory equality built into it.
• First critique – idea that law doesn’t hover above us, law is down here
• Transcendence – law reflects a universal morality. Law represents divine natural order.
There is universal moral ideas out there that everybody has. If you thin kabout things the
right way you will come to the only right answer. Ex. We shouldn’t kill. Influenced by
religion? Influenced by number of different ideas? People who believe in natural law think that law is a naturally occurring phenomena, law is right. This system obedience
becomes an issue. If you are obedient you are considered to be a good person.
Sometimes you are in position there are circumstances where you cannot follow the law.
Is this person necessarily a bad person? Notion of choice, do we always choose to obey
the law? What kinds of pressures face us as people. Were upstanding citizens or
criminals – black and white. Socio legal studies tells us there is a big grey area in the
• Whether some people in our society have more power than others to enforce their
• Law usually listens to corporations. Different experiences with law. Really hard to hang
on to the belief that there are shared moral principles that seem to exist.
• Judging and justice – look at a situation in a certain way. A judge is supposed to be
impartial, separate from political processes from the state. Fairness and justice using
legal positivism. All of the legal players focus on facts instead of values. Apply
appropriate rules to the facts of the case. Supposed to be a neutral value free science of
• Rational – you need to be able to make a decision without being emotionally attached.
Judges almost like a computer. None of own ideas are suppose to come into play.
Separate law from morality. Cold and detached way from thinking about people.
• Dominant set of ideas – law itself doesn’t neccesarily have values. When it works it
works like a filter. Only some ideas come down and take hold in society. Those people
who have are able to dominant in society. Intersecting analysis. Socio-legal studies then
talks about the effects of law.
• Law has been used to impose one set of universal morals or beliefs. Scholars say that
morals or collective consciousness in society changes over time. Society ideas change,
law does not recognize the change. Law usually lags behind social change. Law is very
difficult to change. Takes really long time, only changes incrementally, gradually.
• Critical Analysis – Where did these ideas come from? What kinds of conditions
endorsed a p