On the Dual Motivational Force of Legitimate Authority

28 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015

See all articles by Jonathan Jackson

Jonathan Jackson

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 25, 2015


In this paper I consider two ways by which the legitimacy of legal authorities might motivate people to abide by the law. Following recent criminological research I define legitimacy along two different dimensions: the first is the public recognition of the rightful authority of an institution, and the second is a sense among citizens that the institution is just, moral and appropriate. Data from a randomized controlled trial of procedurally just policing provide further support for the idea that justice systems can secure compliance by (a) instilling in citizens a sense of deference and obligation, and (b) showing to citizens that they represent a requisite sense of moral appropriateness. While prior work has tended to focus on the idea that legitimacy shape compliance through felt obligation, the current analysis shows that compliance is predicted by both duty to obey and moral endorsement. Consistent with a good deal of existing evidence, the findings also indicate the importance of procedural justice and group identification in the production of institutional legitimacy. I conclude with the idea that legitimacy may be able to shape compliance through shape content-free obligation and shared moral appropriateness.

Keywords: Legitimacy, legal compliance, policing, trust, measurement.

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Jonathan, On the Dual Motivational Force of Legitimate Authority (March 25, 2015). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 4/2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2564592 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2564592

Jonathan Jackson (Contact Author)

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

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

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics