A focus on rights consciousness has become a mainstay of the socio-legal study of law in everyday life. Such research, much of it critical in orientation, generally uses people’s sense of grievance as its starting point. The consequent risk is that we elide rights consciousness with a sense of grievance. This article argues that there is merit for critical studies of legal consciousness in keeping these two things separate, and that such represents a dimension of the critical approach to rights consciousness that is largely missing from the field. We present a study of rights consciousness in relation to the imposition of lockdown in the UK during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We show that, despite feeling that lockdown represented a violation of basic rights, most people did not feel a sense of grievance. Further, rights consciousness was influenced by a range of factors distinct from political orientation, most of which were within a sphere of governmental influence. In this way, governmental power was constitutive of the public’s rights consciousness. Further exploration and assessment of when, where and how this might occur should be part of the critical project of legal consciousness research.

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Halliday, S., Jones, A., Meers, J. & Tomlinson, J. 2024, 'Governmental influence over rights consciousness: public perceptions of the COVID-19 lockdown', Journal of Law and Society. https://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/87985/

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Last updated: 01 February 2024
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