On the Dual Motivational Force of Legitimate Authority
28 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015
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.
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