Research Methods: Through the Lens of Legal Consciousness

  • Marc Hertogh
Part of the Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)


This chapter discusses the methodological approach of this study. Starting in the 1980s, legal consciousness research focused on four components: more emphasis on the role of law in society; more emphasis on the role of ordinary people; the advancement of ‘critical empiricism’; and a shift in focus from measurable behaviour to meanings and interpretations. This (critical) framework is modified and replaced by an alternative approach, which is characterized by: the focus on law as both an independent and a dependent variable; the focus on both the haves and the have-nots; the emphasis on research participants’ views and voices; and the use of mixed methods. In Part II, this (secular) approach will be applied to examine the process of legal alienation in three case studies.


Methodology Legal consciousness research Mixed methods 


  1. Abrego, L. (2011). Legal Consciousness of Undocumented Latinos: Fear and Stigma as Barriers to Claims-Making for First-and 1.5 Generation Immigrants. Law & Society Review, 45(2), 337–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albiston, C. (2006). Legal Consciousness and Workplace Rights. In B. Fleury-Steiner & L. Nielsen (Eds.), The New Civil Rights Research: A Constitutive Approach (pp. 55–75). Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  3. Biesta, G. (2010). Pragmatism and the Philosophical Foundations of Mixed Methods Research. In A. Tashakorri & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Sage Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral Research (2nd ed., pp. 95–117). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Blackstone, A., et al. (2009). Legal Consciousness and Responses to Sexual Harassment. Law & Society Review, 43(3), 631–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brewer, J., & Hunter, A. (2006). Foundations of Multimethod Research: Synthesizing Styles. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Charmaz, K. (2000). Constructivist and Objectivist Grounded Theory. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed., pp. 509–535). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Charmaz, K. (2009). Shifting the Grounds: Constructivist Grounded Theory Methods. In J. Morse, et al. (Eds.), Developing Grounded Theory: The Second Generation (pp. 127–154). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  8. Charmaz, K., & Belgrave, L. (2012). Qualitative Interviewing and Grounded Theory Analysis. In J. Gubrium, et al. (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft (pp. 347–365). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, D. (1995). Local Government Legal Consciousness in the Shadow of Juridification. Journal of Law and Society, 22(4), 506–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cowan, D. (2004). Legal Consciousness: Some Observations. The Modern Law Review, 67(6), 928–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ehrlich, E. (1913). Grundlegung der Soziologie des Rechts. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  12. Ehrlich, E. (1922). The Sociology of Law. Harvard Law Review, 36(2), 130–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ehrlich, E. (1936). Fundamental Principles of the Sociology of Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Ehrlich, E. (1967a [1911]). Die Erforschung des Lebenden Rechts. In M. Rehbinder (Ed.), Recht und Leben. Gesammelte Schriften zur Rechtstatsachenforschung und zur Freirechtslehre Von Prof. Dr. Eugen Ehrlich (pp. 11–27). Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  15. Ehrlich, E. (1967b [1912]). Das Lebende Recht der Völker der Bukowina. In M. Rehbinder (Ed.), Recht und Leben. Gesammelte Schriften zur Rechtstatsachenforschung und zur Freirechtslehre Von Prof. Dr. Eugen Ehrlich (pp. 43–60). Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  16. Engel, D. (1998). How Does Law Matter in the Constitution of Legal Consciousness? In B. Garth & A. Sarat (Eds.), How Does Law Matter? (pp. 109–144). Chicago: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Ewick, P., & Silbey, S. (1998). The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Fleury-Steiner, B. (2003). Before or Against the Law? Citizens’ Legal Beliefs and Experiences as Death Penalty Jurors. Studies in Law, Politics and Society, 27, 115–136.Google Scholar
  19. Fleury-Steiner, B. (2004). Jurors’ Stories of Death. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fleury-Steiner, B., & Nielsen, L. (2006). Introduction: A Constitutive Perspective of Rights. In B. Fleury-Steiner & L. Nielsen (Eds.), The New Civil Rights Research: A Constitutive Approach (pp. 1–14). Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  21. Fritsvold, E. (2009). Under the Law: Legal Consciousness and Radical Environmental Activism. Law & Social Inquiry, 34(4), 799–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Garcia-Villegas, M. (2003). Symbolic Power Without Violence? Critical Comments on Legal Consciousness Studies. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 16(4), 363–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  24. Halliday, S., & Morgan, B. (2013). I Fought the Law and the Law Won? Legal Consciousness and the Critical Imagination. Current Legal Problems, 66(1), 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harding, R. (2010). Regulating Sexuality: Legal Consciousness in Lesbian and Gay Lives. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Harding, R., & Peel, E. (2006). “We Do”? International Perspectives on Equality, Legality and Same-Sex Relationships. Lesbian & Gay Psychology Review, 7(2), 123–140.Google Scholar
  27. Hertogh, M. (2004). A “European” Conception of Legal Consciousness: Rediscovering Eugen Ehrlich. Journal of Law and Society, 31(4), 457–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hertogh, M. (Ed.). (2008). Living Law: Reconsidering Eugen Ehrlich [Oñati International Series in Law and Society]. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Hertogh, M. (2009). What’s in a Handshake? Legal Equality and Legal Consciousness in the Netherlands. Social & Legal Studies, 18(2), 221–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hertogh, M., & Kurkchiyan, M. (2016). “When Politics Comes into Play, Law Is No Longer Law”: Images of Collective Legal Consciousness in the UK, Poland and Bulgaria. International Journal of Law in Context, 12(4), 404–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hoffman, E. (2003). Legal Consciousness and Dispute Resolution: Different Disputing Behavior at Two Similar Taxicab Companies. Law & Social Inquiry, 28(3), 691–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Howe, K. (1988). Against the Quantitative-Qualitative Incompatibility Thesis or Dogmas Die Hard. Educational Researcher, 17(8), 10–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hull, K. (2016). Legal Consciousness in Marginalized Groups: The Case of LGBT People. Law & Social Inquiry, 41(3), 551–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hunter, C., et al. (2016). Legal Compliance in Street-Level Bureaucracy: A Study of UK Housing Officers. Law & Policy, 38(1), 81–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnson, R., & Onwuegbuzie, A. (2004). Mixed Methods Research: A Research Paradigm Whose Time Has Come. Educational Researcher, 33(7), 14–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kirkland, A. (2008). Think of the Hippopotamus: Rights Consciousness in the Fat Acceptance Movement. Law & Society Review, 42(2), 397–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kostiner, I. (2003). Evaluating Legality: Toward a Cultural Approach to the Study of Law and Social Change. Law & Society Review, 37(2), 323–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kostiner, I. (2006). “That’s Right”: Truth, Justice, and the Legal Consciousness of Educational Activists. In B. Fleury-Steiner & L. Nielsen (Eds.), The New Civil Rights Research: A Constitutive Approach (pp. 17–35). Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  39. Kubal, A. (2015). Legal Consciousness as a Form of Social Remittance? Studying Return Migrants’ Everyday Practices of Legality in Ukraine. Migration Studies, 3(1), 68–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kurkchiyan, M. (2011). Perceptions of Law and Social Order: A Cross-National Comparison of Collective Legal Consciousness. Wis. Int’l LJ, 29, 366.Google Scholar
  41. Lageson, S. (2017). Crime Data, the Internet, and Free Speech: An Evolving Legal Consciousness. Law & Society Review, 51(1), 8–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Larson, E. (2004). Institutionalizing Legal Consciousness: Regulation and the Embedding of Market Participants in the Security Industry in Ghana and Fiji. Law & Society Review, 38(4), 737–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Levine, K., & Mellema, V. (2001). Strategizing the Street: How Law Matters in the Lives of Women in the Street-Level Drug Economy. Law & Social Inquiry, 26(1), 169–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Likhovski, A. (2003). Czernowitz, Lincoln, Jerusalem, and the Comparative History of American Jurisprudence. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, 4(2), 621–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Macaulay, S. (1963). Non-contractual Relations in Business: A Preliminary Study. American Sociological Review, 28(1), 55–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Marshall, A. (2003). Injustice Frames, Legality, and the Everyday Construction of Sexual Harassment. Law & Social Inquiry, 28(3), 659–689.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marshall, A. (2005). Idle Rights: Employees’ Rights Consciousness and the Construction of Sexual Harassment Policies. Law & Society Review, 39(1), 83–124.Google Scholar
  48. Marshall, A. (2006). ‘Consciousness in Context: Employees’ Views of Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedures. In B. Fleury-Steiner & L. Nielsen (Eds.), The New Civil Rights Research: A Constitutive Approach (pp. 101–116). Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  49. McCann, M. (2006). On Legal Rights Consciousness: A Challenging Analytical Tradition. In B. Fleury-Steiner & L. Nielsen (Eds.), The New Civil Rights Research: A Constitutive Approach (pp. ix–xxx). Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  50. McCann, M. (2012). Expanding the Horizons of Horizontal Inquiry into Rights Consciousness: An Engagement with David Engel. Indiana Journal of Global Studies, 19(2), 467–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Merry, S. (1990). Getting Justice and Getting Even: Legal Consciousness Among Working-Class Americans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  52. Mezey, N. (2001). Out of the Ordinary: Law, Power, Culture, and the Commonplace. Law & Social Inquiry, 26(1), 145–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mills, J., et al. (2006). The Development of Constructivist Grounded Theory. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Morgan, D. (2007). Paradigms Lost and Pragmatism Regained: Methodological Implications of Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(1), 48–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morse, J., et al. (Eds.). 2009. Developing Grounded Theory: The Second Generation. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  56. Moustafa, T. (2013). Islamic Law, Women’s Rights, and Popular Legal Consciousness in Malaysia. Law & Social Inquiry, 38(1), 168–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nelken, D. (1984). Law in Action or Living Law? Back to the Beginning in Sociology of Law. Legal Studies, 4(2), 157–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nielsen, L. (2000). Situating Legal Consciousness: Experiences and Attitudes of Ordinary Citizens About Law and Street Harassment. Law & Society Review, 34(4), 1055–1090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nielsen, L. (2004). License to Harass: Law, Hierarchy and Offensive Public Speech. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Nielsen, L. (2010). The Need for Multi-Method Approaches in Empirical Legal Research. In P. Cane & H. Kritzer (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research (pp. 951–975). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Podgórecki, A., et al. (Eds.). (1973). Knowledge and Opinion About Law. London: M. Robertson.Google Scholar
  62. Pound, R. (1910). Law in Books and Law in Action. American Law Review, 44, 12–36.Google Scholar
  63. Richards, S. (2015). Unearthing Bureaucratic Legal Consciousness: Government Officials’ Legal Identification and Moral Ideals. International Journal of Law in Context, 11(3), 299–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sarat, A. (1977). Studying American Legal Culture: An Assessment of Survey Evidence. Law & Society Review, 11(3), 427–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sarat, A. (1990). “The Law Is All Over”: Power, Resistance and the Legal Consciousness of the Welfare Poor. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, 2(2), 343–379.Google Scholar
  66. Silbey, S. (1989). A Sociological Interpretation of the Relationship Between Law and Society. In R. Neuhaus (Ed.), Law and the Ordering of Our Life Together (pp. 1–27). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  67. Silbey, S. (2005). After Legal Consciousness. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 1, 323–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Silbey, S., & Sarat, A. (1987). Critical Traditions in Law and Society Research. Law & Society Review, 21(1), 165–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tamanaha, B. (1997). Realistic Socio-legal Theory: Pragmatism and a Social Theory of Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  70. Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (Eds.). (2010). Sage Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral Research (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  71. Tashakorri, A., & Teddlie, C. (1998). Mixed Methodology. Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  72. Trubek, D., & Esser, J. (1989). “Critical Empiricism” in American Legal Studies: Paradox, Program, or Pandora’s Box? Law & Social Inquiry, 14(1), 3–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wilson, J. C. (2011). Sustaining the State: Legal Consciousness and the Construction of Legality in Competing Abortion Activists’ Narratives. Law & Social Inquiry, 36(2), 455–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Young, K. (2014). Everyone Knows the Game: Legal Consciousness in the Hawaiian Cockfight. Law & Society Review, 48(3), 499–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Ziegert, K. (1979). The Sociology Behind Eugen Ehrlich’s Sociology of Law. International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 7(3), 225–273.Google Scholar
  76. Ziegert, K. (2002). Introduction to the Transaction Edition. In E. Ehrlich (Ed.), Fundamental Principles of the Sociology of Law (pp. xix–l). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers (reprint).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Socio-Legal Studies, Faculty of LawUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations