A Pedagogy of Law under Social Constraints: Trade Unionists and Labor Inspectors as Legal Advisors

Justice at Work
By Laurent Willemez

The forms of legal advice given to employees has rarely been the subject of inquiries that deal with the legal activity of French unions. A comparison is made between two sorts of advice: advice that is delivered by activists at the lower levels of three unions and advice that is delivered by the labor inspectorate by means of an ethnographical inquiry. The article emphasizes two aspects of the activity: the translating of difficulties in the workplace and feelings of injustice into legal categories, and filtering the legal demands of the employees. It also highlights the political dimension of such an activity. The inquiry helps to point out some differences between the two types of actors, according to organizational and professional logics.

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