Article

Public Images and Understandings of Courts

James L. Gibson

in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542475
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199542475.013.0035

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

 Public Images and Understandings of Courts

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This article focuses on contemporary work on public knowledge of, information about, and public images and judgments of law and courts. It begins with a brief digression on the nature of the scholarship on public opinion and the operation of courts and postulates that courts are political institutions. In order to highlight the importance of judicial knowledge, democratic theory is explained in the article. The theory of judicial influence is a theory of individual-level attitude change. A great deal more research, however, must be conducted before the hypothesis of attitude change can be accepted. Legitimacy is one of the most highly valued forms of political capital. Available evidence indicates that national high courts differ greatly in the legitimacy they have acquired. Future research should focus on the processes through which courts become salient to ordinary people and how interactions with courts, especially judicial symbols, contribute to institutional legitimacy.

Keywords: public images and judgments; law and courts; political institutions; judicial influence; judicial symbols; institutional legitimacy

Article.  11186 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Comparative Law

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