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Justice, Emotion, and Belonging: Legal Consciousness in a Taiwanese Family Conflict

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024


This case study of a family conflict in Taiwan explores how legal consciousness is emotionally driven, intersubjective, and dependent on relational factors that are deeply connected to an individual's perception of the self–other relationship and affinity therein. As the members of the Lee family negotiated emotionally on issues involving elder care and inheritance, their adoption of law was at times absent, at others influential, but always shaped by certain Chinese concepts such as zìjǐrén (自己人), which constitute the emotional complex of belonging in Taiwan. This cultural patterning identifies a person as included, accepted, and respected by the group and when in conflict, is the driving force behind a disputants' pursuit of an identity that places them on moral high ground as a form of justice. Rather than depending on rational decision making or legal norms, their legal consciousness was determined by the sense of self, rectitude, emotion, and subjectivity.

© 2019 Law and Society Association.

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