Legal consciousness research enjoys a continuing popularity among socio-legal scholars. For the most part, researchers have assumed that legal consciousness is to be studied in the thoughts, decisions, and behavior of the individual actor. Relationships and interpersonal dealings are considered, if at all, as factors external to consciousness itself, producing only occasional effects. This study, however, argues that a deeper consideration of the interpersonal aspects of legal consciousness is justified in light of a growing literature on the relational self in the health sciences, the social sciences, and in law itself. Furthermore, recent socio-legal research in a greater number of cultures reinforces the view that legal consciousness is actually created in and sustained by relationships and that an individualistic perspective across cultures is ultimately unproductive. Legal consciousness is not necessarily coterminous with the physical body. Focusing on the legal consciousness of injury victims, this study contends that all injuries are actually relational as they are perceived and experienced by their victims. The role and relevance of law in injury cases can be understood only in terms of the network of relationships that injuries affect.
About David Engel
David Engel is SUNY Distinguished Service Professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, State University of New York. He studies law and society in the United States and in other countries, particularly Thailand, where he has lived, worked and taught for many years. His latest book,The Myth of the Litigious Society: Why We Don’t Sue (University of Chicago Press 2016), explains why, contrary to conventional wisdom, most American injury victims never lodge a claim against their injurers. He has published numerous books and articles about Asian and American legal cultures as well as the effects of American civil rights legislation on men and women with disabilities.