Loyalists, Cynics and Outsiders: Who are the Critics of the Justice System in the UK and the Netherlands?
International Journal of Law in Context, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2011
34 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 8, 2010
Recent surveys in the UK and the Netherlands indicate that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the justice system. But who are these ‘critics’ of the justice system? Most previous studies only produced general statistics, while the persons behind the figures remained invisible. By contrast, this paper aims to put a face to these numbers and discusses two ways of analyzing the profile of the critics. Based on a review of existing survey data, the paper first looks at their ‘demographic profile’. Next, the paper also considers a second, alternative, approach. Based on their level of legal awareness and legal identification, it distinguishes four different ‘normative profiles’: legalists, loyalists, cynics and outsiders. Moreover, the paper shows how these normative profiles may be applied in future comparative studies on legal mobilization and legal protest. It is concluded that combining both approaches will help us to look beyond common stereotypes and consider the critics of the justice system as real persons with genuine concerns about the administration of justice in their country.
Keywords: public opinion, survey research, legal consciousness, social protest, legal alienation
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