Monopolizing Force? Police Legitimacy and Public Attitudes toward the Acceptability of Violence
London School of Economics & Political Science: Department of Methodology
Aziz Z. Huq
University of Chicago Law School
University of Oxford - Centre for Criminology
Yale University - Law School
May 9, 2013
Psychology, Public Policy and Law, Forthcoming
Why do people believe that violence is acceptable? In this paper we study people’s normative beliefs about the acceptability of violence to achieve social control (as a substitute for the police, for self-protection and the resolution of disputes) and social change (through violent protests and acts to achieve political goals). Addressing attitudes towards violence among young men from various ethnic minority communities in London, we find that procedural justice is strongly correlated with police legitimacy, and that positive judgments about police legitimacy predicts more negative views about the use of violence. We conclude with the idea that police legitimacy has an additional, hitherto unrecognized, empirical property – by constituting the belief that the police monopolise rightful force in society, legitimacy can create a ‘crowding out’ effect on positive views of private violence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: Attitudes towards violence, public trust, procedural justice, institutional legitimacyAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 14, 2012 ; Last revised: May 10, 2013
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