Going Outside the Law: The Role of the State in Forming Attitudes to Extralegal Violence
52 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 6, 2011
This article examines the circumstances in which individual members of ethnic and racial minority communities believe it is acceptable to go outside the law by resorting to violence. Analyzing the attitudes of a random sample of young British men who belong to racial minorities, we study attitudes towards two forms of violence. We address attitudes to violence as a form of social control and attitudes to violence as a tool for social change, e.g., through violent protests or through terrorism. Although both forms of violence are matters of ongoing concern, the influence of the state - and particularly the behavior and legitimacy of the police and the state - upon public attitudes to violence is poorly understood. We reject the hypothesis that attitudes to violence are solely products of individual psychology, social class, or immediate circumstances. We argue that the legitimacy of the state and its agents influences both attitudes to violence as a form of social control and attitudes to violence as a tool for social change. A “procedural justice” model used previously to predict cooperative and compliance behavior of the public may therefore have a larger range of applications.
Keywords: Violence, policing, procedural justice, terrorism
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