Officers as Mirrors: Policing, Procedural Justice and the (Re)Production of Social Identity
24 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 9, 2013
People’s encounters with the criminal justice system can powerfully shape both their sense of self and their sense of belonging. In this paper we focus on the effect experiences of policing may have on people’s identities. A representative panel survey of Australians provides the most convincing evidence yet that social identity (here, identifying oneself as a ‘law-abiding Australian’) is an important mechanism linking procedural justice to police legitimacy. When people feel fairly treated, their sense of identification with the group the police represent seems to be enhanced, strengthening police legitimacy as a result; but unfair treatment, which indicates to people that they do not belong, may undermine such identification and damage police legitimacy.
Keywords: Police; procedural justice; legitimacy; social identity.
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