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Practicing Americans: Foodways, Capitalism and Marriage in The Americans

Anna-Maria Marshall (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA)

Law, Politics and Family in ‘The Americans’

ISBN: 978-1-83753-995-6, eISBN: 978-1-83753-994-9

Publication date: 25 September 2023


In The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are undercover operatives for the Soviet Union. In that capacity, they are responsible for crimes including murder and espionage. Yet they also pose as a law-abiding family, running a small business, raising children, and making friends with their neighbours. By ‘practicing’ American life, Philip becomes more American, forging an identity more receptive to American values and attitudes. This chapter draws on concepts from the literature on legal consciousness to examine the relationship between identity and hegemony. Studies of legal consciousness emphasise that consciousness is not simply legal attitudes or even ideology; rather legal consciousness is reflected in the way that people enact their legal beliefs and values. Those enactments help individuals form identities, but those identities are constrained by the hegemonic ideologies that are prevalent in the culture. Law and legal consciousness are important to both processes.




I am especially grateful to Mary Dudas, Claire Rasmussen and Richard McAdams; our many conversations about The Americans are doubtlessly reflected in this essay. I also extend my thanks to Renee Cramer, Paula Williams and the anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments on the chapter.


Marshall, A.-M. (2023), "Practicing Americans: Foodways, Capitalism and Marriage in The Americans", Sarat, A. (Ed.) Law, Politics and Family in ‘The Americans’ (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 89), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 17-36.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Anna-Maria Marshall