This dissertation addresses the topics of stigma and legal consciousness through close examination of the attitudes and life experiences of legal gun owners in upstate New York. Based in the symbolic interactionist tradition, and using a grounded theory approach, this project explores data gathered from participant-observation sessions, and semi-structured interviews with 37 participants. Analysis of this data reveals that respondents highlight safety, responsibility, skillful operation, and fun as the primary values they associate with the ownership and use of firearms. Additionally, in a departure from previous research in this area, respondents reported few individual experiences of social stigma, and engage in very few stigma management techniques surrounding their ownership and use of firearms. However, respondents do experience negative outcomes surrounding their engagement with the political realm, leading to perceptions of disadvantage, especially in state-level politics. Using Ewick and Silbey’s theory of legal consciousness as a framework, respondents’ accounts reveal how their perceptions of the political process as a whole are best viewed using the “with the law” perspective, whereas their attitudes about New York State politics specifically are better described using the “against the law” perspective. These research findings can be applied more broadly to gain understanding about the nature of stigma and its effects on individuals and groups, as well as the conditions under which groups feel engaged with, or disconnected from, legal and political processes.
|Commitee:||Fader, Jamie, Messner, Steven|
|School:||State University of New York at Albany|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Firearms, Interviews, Legal consciousness, Stigma, Symbolic interactionism|
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