Monopolizing Force? Police Legitimacy and Public Attitudes toward the Acceptability of Violence

Psychology, Public Policy and Law, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2012 Last revised: 10 May 2013

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology

Aziz Z. Huq

University of Chicago - Law School

Ben Bradford

University of Oxford - Centre for Criminology

Tom Tyler

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: May 9, 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Attitudes towards violence, public trust, procedural justice, institutional legitimacy

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Jonathan and Huq, Aziz Z. and Bradford, Ben and Tyler, Tom, Monopolizing Force? Police Legitimacy and Public Attitudes toward the Acceptability of Violence (May 9, 2013). Psychology, Public Policy and Law, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1984957 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1984957

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+0044-207-955-7652 (Phone)

Aziz Z. Huq (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Ben Bradford

University of Oxford - Centre for Criminology ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Tom Tyler

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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