Lawyers, justice and the state: The sliding signifier of law in popular culture

Jason Bainbridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines how the concept of ‘law’ is culturally defined through a semiotic analysis of some of the ways in which law is constructed in popular culture. The article goes on to map the changing signifier of law across a number of film and television series, from the heroic lawyer to the embodiment of the ‘state’, the police officer and the government agent. In each case, analysis is provided of how the change in signifier alters the corresponding signified of ‘law’ — and the implications this change has for the pursuit of justice and fidelity to the rule of law. It is suggested that the popular cultural signifier of law has slid further and further away from the modern rule of law towards an increasingly transcendent and interventionist pursuit of justice, pushing the boundaries and promoting debate over what law can and should be.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-176
Number of pages24
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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