Militarization and Perceptions of Law Enforcement in the Developing World: Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment in Mexico

British Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming)

44 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021

Date Written: April 18, 2021

Abstract

Although a growing body of research suggests that the constabularization of the military for
domestic policing is counterproductive, this increasingly prevalent policy has nonetheless enjoyed
widespread support in the developing world. This study advances our understanding of the
consequences of militarization for perceptions of law enforcement: whether visual features shape
perceptions of effectiveness, respect for civil liberties, proclivity for corruption, and acceptance of
militarization in one’s own neighborhood. Based on a nationally representative, image-based,
conjoint experiment conducted in Mexico, we find that military weapons and uniforms enhance
perceptions of effectiveness and respect for civil liberties, and that the effect of military uniform
becomes greater with increased military presence. We also find that gender shapes perceptions of
civil liberties and corruption, but we find no effect for skin color. The findings suggest that a central
feature of militarization linked to greater violence—military weapons—is paradoxically a key factor
explaining favorable attitudes, and that women can play a crucial role in improving perceptions of
law enforcement.

Keywords: Militarization, Constabularization, Law Enforcement, Perceptions, Public Opinion, Conjoint Experiment, Latin America, Mexico

Suggested Citation

Flores-Macias, Gustavo and Zarkin, Jessica, Militarization and Perceptions of Law Enforcement in the Developing World: Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment in Mexico (April 18, 2021). British Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3828827

Jessica Zarkin

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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

Paper statistics

Downloads
69
Abstract Views
259
rank
450,590
PlumX Metrics