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Institutionalizing Legal Consciousness: Regulation and the Embedding of Market Participants in the Securities Industry in Ghana and Fiji


  • An earlier version of this article was presented at the joint meetings of the Law & Society Association and the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law of the International Sociological Association in July 2001 in Budapest, Hungary. This research was funded in part by a University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Grant for Research Abroad and a University of Minnesota Department of Sociology Bright Research Award. Thanks to Elizabeth Boyle, Ron Aminzade, Robin Stryker, Ross Macmillan, Chris Uggen, members of Ron's Salon discussion group, individuals at my research locations, and the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Review for their helpful feedback.

Please address. correspondence to Erik Larson, Sociology Department, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105; e-mail:


How do differences in the implementation of regulation impact market behavior? I propose a theoretical framework to understand this impact as part of the process of embedding market participants through the institutionalization of legal consciousness within a field of action. I use this framework to understand the impact of the difference in the implementation of securities regulation in Ghana and Fiji. In Fiji, where the regulatory agency is more present and process-oriented, brokers operate with a greater orientation toward formal rules. In Ghana, where the regulatory agency is distant and auditing, brokers rely on explicit enforcement of floor-based norms. Conceiving of legal consciousness as an emergent feature of a field of social action advances the understanding of how legality is institutionalized, since the emergent structure shapes the orientations, behavior, and relations of actors within the field.