43 Law & Soc'y Rev. 631 (2009)
Legal Consciousness and Responses to Sexual Harassment

handle is hein.journals/lwsocrw43 and id is 637 raw text is: Legal Consciousness and Responses to Sexual
Amy Blackstone
Christopher Uggen
Heather McLaughlin
Studies of legal mobilization often focus on people who have perceived some
wrong, but these studies rarely consider the process that selects them into the
pool of potential mobilizers. Similarly, studies of victimization or targeting
rarely go on to consider what people do about the wrong, or why some targets
come forward and others remain silent. We here integrate sociolegal, feminist,
and criminological theories in a conceptual model that treats experiencing
sexual harassment and mobilizing in response as interrelated processes. We
then link these two processes by modeling them as jointly determined outcomes
and examine their connections using interviews with a subset of our survey
respondents. Our results suggest that targets of harassment are selected, in
part, because they are least likely to tell others about the experience. We also
discuss strategies that workers employ to cope with and confront harassment.
We find that traditional formal/informal dichotomies of mobilization responses
may not fully account for the range of ways that individuals respond to
harassment, and we propose a preliminary typology of responses.
How do individuals respond when they feel their rights have
been violated? Do those who perceive a wrong simply tell the
wrongdoer, do they tell others, or do they ignore it? Following
Ewick and Silbey's (1998) groundbreaking work on the common
place of law, a growing body of literature has taken up these and
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2003 meetings of the Law and Society
Association, Pittsburgh. We thank Jeylan Mortimer for support in several phases of this
research, Jason Houle for research assistance, and Steve Barkan, Lance Blackstone, Steve
Cohn, Andy Halpern-Manners, Mike Vuolo, and Sara Wakefield for helpful comments. The
Youth Development Study is supported by a grant, Work Experience and Mental Health:
A Panel Study of Youth, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development (HD44138). It was previously supported by the National Institute of Mental
Health (MH42843). Additional support was obtained from the University of Minnesota Life
Course Center and the University of Maine Women in the Curriculum Program. The content
is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of
Health. Direct correspondence to Amy Blackstone, Department of Sociology, University of
Maine, 5728 Fernald Hall, Orono, ME 04469; e-mail: amy.blackstone@umit.maine.edu.
Law & Society Review, Volume 43, Number 3 (2009)
 2009 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.

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