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Sustaining the State: Legal Consciousness and the Construction of Legality in Competing Abortion Activists' Narratives

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Abstract:

This article investigates how activists involved in both sides of the street politics of abortion simultaneously create, are constrained by, and use law when recounting a period of conflict that resulted in litigation. The activists-turned-litigants' construction of legality is explored by identifying and analyzing patterns of inclusion, absence, amendment, and type of law (i.e., state or extrastate) in and across the stories they tell. It is found that even though there are multiple reasons to expect all of these activists to resist or amend the state's conception of law, their narratives ultimately reproduce state law's legitimacy and power. The activists' stories also illustrate that legal consciousness is contextually and experientially based and is therefore subject to change. This finding has implications for legal mobilization as well as for the nature of legal consciousness.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-4469.2011.01238.x

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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