Dissenting Consciousness

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This article conceptualizes dissenting consciousness based on a qualitative case study of migrants’ and human rights lawyers’ everyday experiences of pursuing claims before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) from Russia. Dissent as a theoretical concept is traced to judicial literature and modern social conflict theories. Dissenting consciousness heuristically captures a degree of agency rooted in the critique of law as illegitimate, yet short of active resistance. Drawing on recent developments around “under the law” legal consciousness, disempowerment, and legal alienation, this perspective comes useful to unpack the “negative diagonal” between “isolation/fatalism and the dissenting collectivism,” as core to this orientation of legality. Dissenting consciousness of migrants-litigants airs voices of challenge to the mainstream just as the subversive stories told by the past applicants and lawyers before the Strasbourg Court inject subtle heterodoxy into the legal process.