Legal consciousness and responses to sexual harassment

Amy Blackstone, Christopher Uggen, Heather McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Studies of legal mobilization often focus on people who have perceived some wrong, but these studies rarely consider the process that selects them into the pool of potential "mobilizers." Similarly, studies of victimization or targeting rarely go on to consider what people do about the wrong, or why some targets come forward and others remain silent. We here integrate sociolegal, feminist, and criminological theories in a conceptual model that treats experiencing sexual harassment and mobilizing in response as interrelated processes. We then link these two processes by modeling them as jointly determined outcomes and examine their connections using interviews with a subset of our survey respondents. Our results suggest that targets of harassment are selected, in part, because they are least likely to tell others about the experience. We also discuss strategies that workers employ to cope with and confront harassment. We find that traditional formalinformal dichotomies of mobilization responses may not fully account for the range of ways that individuals respond to harassment, and we propose a preliminary typology of responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-668
Number of pages38
JournalLaw and Society Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


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