Why Do People Comply with the Law? Legitimacy and the Influence of Legal Institutions
London School of Economics & Political Science: Department of Methodology
University of Oxford - Centre for Criminology
King's College London - Institute for Criminal Policy Research
College of Policing
National Policing Improvement Agency
Yale University - Law School
February 5, 2012
British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 52, No. 6, pp. 1051-1071, 2012
This paper extends Tyler’s procedural justice model of public compliance with the law. Analysing data from a national probability sample of adults in England and Wales, we present a new conceptualisation of legitimacy based not just on the recognition of power but also the justification of power. We find that people accept the police’s right to dictate appropriate behaviour, not only when they feel a duty to obey officers, but also when they believe that the institution acts according to a shared moral purpose with citizens. Highlighting a number of different routes by which institutions can influence citizen behaviour, our broader normative model provides a better framework for explaining why people are willing to comply with the law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: Public confidence, trust, legitimacy, compliance
JEL Classification: K40Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 31, 2012 ; Last revised: March 13, 2013
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