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Dignity of a Judge: What happens in the periphery

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Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Law

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Description There are many folk ideas about what a judge is or should be, from images in literature to pop culture or mass media, or law itself. Naturally, these images evolve and at any time some of them are further from what might be considered to be a generally shared idea.In an ongoing project, we are testing the possibilities of the methods available within the social representations approach (Moscovici 1963) in critically studying conceptualization in law. The social representations approach stems from social psychology and its main benefit is the capability to explore shared folk meanings. The structural approach to social representations (Abric 1993) recognizes that each social representation has a stable component and a flexible component: a central core and a periphery. A central core consists of collectively shared elements, providing a stable semantic field for a given social group. Periphery, on the other hand, is the flexible interface between the core and the immediate context of the concept’s use. Periphery is also the dynamic space that allows for conceptual, and consequently social and legal changes. Therefore, any change in any social representation of a social object comes from the outskirts of its semantic field, making it in a constant state of transition and transformation. We have conducted research to determine the social representation of ‘a dignified judge’ among practicing lawyers, using hierarchical evocation method (Abric 2005). This paper explores the periphery of the social representation of ‘a dignified judge’, discussing the various dimensions of its meaning. Given the volatility of the periphery of ‘a dignified judge’, any related information may, therefore, serve as directory for understanding its future development, including possible risks to the legitimacy of the judiciary. To that end this paper also discusses the negative associations that have the capacity not only to distort the concept of judge’s dignity but also report on the state of transition of this particular social object.
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