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This Side of the Law: Evaluating Citizens' Attitudes Toward Legal Compliance

29 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017  

Damon M. Cann

Utah State University - Department of Political Science

Jeff Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: July 28, 2017

Abstract

A fundamental concern of government is getting citizens to comply with its laws. Yet, citizen beliefs on the importance of following the law have received relatively little attention in political science scholarship. People's feelings regarding legal compliance are driven by a dynamic and nuanced set of influences. In this study we explore the degree to which people are committed to the rule of law and the importance of legal obedience. We employ a structural equation modeling approach to assaying the factors that influence citizens' beliefs regarding the importance of following the law. We find that citizens' perceptions on the legitimacy of legal institutions and justice system scandals, among other considerations, can impact the importance citizens' attach to obeying the law. Some factors also wield indirect effects on compliance attitudes by influencing citizens' views regarding the legitimacy of courts. Our paper provides novel insights on this core aspect of government-citizen dynamics.

Keywords: Courts, Structural Equation, Public Opinion, Compliance, Obey, Law Order, Legitimacy

Suggested Citation

Cann, Damon M. and Yates, Jeff, This Side of the Law: Evaluating Citizens' Attitudes Toward Legal Compliance (July 28, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3021228

Damon M. Cann (Contact Author)

Utah State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

0725 University Blvd.
Logan, UT 84322-0725
United States

Jeff L. Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

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