The aim of this Ph.D. research has been to trace the various ways in which legal norms are embedded in the legal consciousness of Danish drivers, and how this influences their driving practices in order to grasp how legal consciousness unfolds in dynamic processes, through interpretative analysis of everyday life activities. The focus is on both the normal ways of doing things – on habitual patterns of talk and action, and commonsense understanding of the world - and on the processes of social interpretation that are shared by some in the locality, and contested by others.

In order to explore how legal consciousness unfolds in dynamic processes, through the interpretation of everyday life activities, the research is based on a pragmatic hermeneutic approach. Thirty drivers were selected by the principle of maximum variation, and participated in qualitative interviews. Ten of the interviewed drivers also participated in camera observations in their own private motor vehicles. The aim of this combination of methods was to use motion pictures of driving in material, socio-cultural and institutional context as an instrument to shed light on the various ways that drivers interpret frames, and rationalise their own actions in practice. This combination of methods has proven to be very useful in showing that in specific situations frames are interpreted in various ways. Even though legal norms are factual they may be interpreted in various ways due to the material and socio-cultural frames in play in specific situations.

I differentiate analytically between three types of legal consciousness; the pragmatic, the rule ethical and the critical rational. The pragmatic is utility-oriented and concerned with the risk of harming others; the rule ethical is concerned with the obligation to uphold social systems and to be considerate towards others, and the critical rational is concerned with whether or not legal norms are the most reasonable way of regulating the interests of the majority of the people influenced by the legal norm. When and how drivers use different types of moral reasoning in practice is associated with how they interpret material, socio-cultural and institutional frames in specific situations.
Effektiv start/slut dato15/09/200615/06/2009
ID: 280872053