ABSTRACT

This study shows the fundamental importance of social context in leading to the understanding and implementation of law. Despite similar legal definitions, individuals and organizational decision makers interpreted law differently, through their own social context. The legal definition of sexual harassment is not a stable category; rather, it is interpreted and reinterpreted by individuals who exist in particular social contexts. This social context varies constitutively, orders and shapes the understanding of what law means and how it should be implemented. However, this study also shows that 'social context' is not a catch-all category. Studies attributing variation in law to 'social context' are overlooking at least three distinct conceptual categories within social context: the national context, the organizational context and the individual context. Each of these aspects of social context has the potential to influence the way law is understood and implemented.