Constitutionalism, Legitimacy, and Public Order: A South African Case Study
Forthcoming, Constitutional Triumphs, Constitutional Disappointments (Rosalind Dixon and Theunis Roux, eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
14 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2017 Last revised: 6 Sep 2017
Date Written: March 23, 2017
This chapter considers an important, but rarely considered, question about constitutional legitimation: How might experiences with a particular kind of street-level bureaucrats influence the legitimacy of a constitutional regime? The post-apartheid experience of South Africa usefully illuminates the possibility that public experiences with policing – or rather the want of sufficient, effectual, and non-corrupt policing – can undermine trust in a government newly constituted under a constitution. Police are important precisely because they are dispersed, numerous, and localized representatives of the state. Members of the public are more likely to encounter police than judges, elected officials, or other state officials. Their view of the state, in consequence, may well be mediated by the behaviour of police. As a correlative, there is some evidence to suggest that experiences with the police provide important signals of relative standing, recognition, and dignitary worth to individuals. This chapter develops a theoretical and empirical basis for positing that these signals influence judgments about the constitution.
Keywords: Constitution, legitimacy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation