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Chasing justice, challenging power: legal consciousness and the mobilization of sexual harassment law

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Title
Chasing justice, challenging power: legal consciousness and the mobilization of sexual harassment law
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Title
Legal consciousness and the mobilization of sexual harassment law
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Patterson
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Sasha
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Sasha Patterson
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Junn
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Jane
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Advisory Committee
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Jane Junn
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chair
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Carroll
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Susan
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Advisory Committee
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Susan Carroll
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Hawkesworth
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Mary
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Advisory Committee
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Mary Hawkesworth
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Paris
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Michael
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Advisory Committee
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Michael Paris
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Rutgers University
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degree grantor
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Graduate School - New Brunswick
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theses
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2008
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2008-05
Language
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English
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electronic
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vi, 195 pages
Abstract
This project examines the legal consciousness of women who have filed sexual harassment complaints against their employers. I chose to focus on sexual harassment because I am particularly interested in the intersection of law and social attitudes about gender and sexuality. Examining the experiences of women who turn to the law in response to sexual harassment helps uncover the ways in which power in American law and social structures is suffused with understandings of gender and sexuality. My project attempts to understand the viewpoint of those who would challenge the existing power dynamic, and explore how the social structures of gender, sexuality and patriarchy are implicated in women's conceptions of legality.
The analysis is based on interviews with a dozen women who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. These women have distinguished themselves from their peers by filing a formal complaint, lawsuit or grievance. The interview subjects, unlike the majority of women who are sexually harassed, have decided to invoke the law on their behalf.
In order to understand how legal consciousness informs the understanding, expectations and experiences of my respondents, I develop a theoretical framework based on legal consciousness literature and feminist analysis of sexual harassment law. I explore the questions of how my respondents view the law, the expectations they have of law and how their interaction with the legal system influences their legal consciousness.
The interviews paint a vivid picture of the experience of harassment and the implications of trying to use the law as a means of empowerment. The stories of these individual women illustrate the power of law to constrain individual action, and emphasize how patriarchy establishes and maintains gender inequality in the social and economic structures of the workplace and the legal system. However, they also show how individuals will resist the hegemonic power of the law and seek to use the law to empower themselves, despite an awareness of the challenges and limitations of law.
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 186-194).
Subject (ID = SUBJ1); (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Political Science
Subject (ID = SUBJ2); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Sexual harassment of women
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Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore19991600001
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http://hdl.rutgers.edu/1782.2/rucore10001600001.ETD.17371
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ETD_944
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Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T337792Q
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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The author owns the copyright to this work.
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Copyright protected
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Open
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Sasha Patterson
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Affiliation
Rutgers University. Graduate School - New Brunswick
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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