The Mass Media Effect On The Formation Of The Legal Consciousness A problem of the formation of the legal consciousness is one of the most discussing issues in contemporary society. It is associated with a quite low level of the legal consciousness and legal culture, also with negative effect of different sources of information. In this work we are to explore some positive and negative aspects of the mass media influence on public as one of the sources.
There is a pluralism of opinions to concept definition of the legal consciousness. A. Vengerov considers the legal consciousness as an objectively existing set of interrelated ideas, emotions, expressing the relation of society, groups, individuals to the law — this integral social institution, its system and structure, certain laws, other descriptions of the legal system793.
According to N. Matuzov and A. Malko the legal consciousness is the totality of conceptions and senses which express relations of people, social communities to the current or wishing law794.
T. Radko thinks that the legal consciousness is the form of the social consciousness, which corresponds the system of legal opinions, conceptions, ideas and senses, based on the knowledge of the law and other legal occurrences, which expresses their assessment and includes new legal requirements795.
There are three kinds of the legal consciousness. The first is ordinary. It shapes under the effect of concrete conditions, own experience and practical attainments of the law. The second one is a professional legal consciousness. In the first place it is the legal consciousness of lawyers, different employees of the state apparatus, such as prosecutors, investigators, notary officers and many others. Finally, the third kind of the legal consciousness is academic. Academic-based legal consciousness is composed from ideas, conceptions, opinions, which express codified, theoretical development of law. This kind of legal consciousness is based on the research of existing legal system (and/or systems), necessary changes and expectations in the legal sphere.
Besides there are some other types of legal consciousness – individual, group and public. A certain person acquires individual legal consciousness under the effect of different objective and subjective factors (education, experience, certain circumstances and situations, relationship with state structures, other citizens). Group legal consciousness is a legal consciousness of social communities, groups and collectives of people in possession of common rights, interests (needs) and similar relation to legal activity (for instance, legal consciousness of judges, prosecutors, doctors, youth, women, retirees etc.). Public legal consciousness is the totality of opinions, senses, emotions emerged in a society expressing its relationship to the law.
Mass media’s effect on the legal consciousness is intended for public and generally ordinary level of thinking. Mass media’s impact on public and its consciousness, including legal consciousness, is highly considerable and strong. In process of legal socialization and effect on person’s legal consciousness it implements following functions: advancement of legal knowledge; demonstration of methods of legal regulation and law enforcement; dissemination of legal culture; censure and conviction of unlawful acts; entertainment (display of detectives, holding competitions on TV about legal problems etc.)
In spite of these, there is a number of programs which can shape erroneous understanding of the law. Firstly, some films, serials or telecasts show public officers who appear as positive heroes but in fact they break the law. Thereby the legal consciousness shapes in a wrong way because TV viewers envisage the authorities as unfair, unlawful and illegal organization. In addition some media show common people who are confident of their impunity, so they break the law and neglect the authorities. As a rule, they appear before us as correct and just people who remain unpunished. Consequently every person can have an idea emerged that everyone including him or her has the right to create an arbitrary rule.
On the other hand, mass media, on the contrary, can facilitate the formation of correct legal consciousness. For example, some TV programs inform us about the law or legal news, they show us interesting, informative and educational telecasts which tell us about courts, police, crimes, punishments etc. Therefore, they build the knowledge, develop and revive interest in law and ipso facto create the true legal consciousness. In Russia there are many similar programs, for instance, The Jury Trial (Sud Prisyazhnikh), The Federal Judge (Federalniy Sudya), Before the Trial (Do Suda).
To sum up, mass media shapes either positive or negative relations to the law. It is connected with spreading of inconsistent and faulty or, on the contrary, correct and truthful information about the law. Media can help to mould some basic knowledge about the law, legal system and legal assessment of the situation in the state today. Mass media is an integral part of contemporary world.