Work in progress
Police legitimacy and the norm to cooperate: using a mixed effects location scale model to estimate the strength of social norms at a small spatial scale
Authors: Jon Jackson, Ian Bruton-Smith, Ben Bradford, Thiago R. Oliveira, & Krisztián Pósch.
Reject-and-resubmit at Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Objectives: Test whether cooperation with the police is a social norm that varies in strength from neighborhood to neighborhood. Test whether police legitimacy plays no role with willingness to cooperate in neighborhoods where the norm is strong but is a positive predictor of cooperation in neighborhoods where the norm is weak.
Methods: A survey of 1,057 individuals in 98 neighborhoods, defined at small spatial scale, measures (a) willingness to cooperate using a hypothetical vignette and (b) legitimacy using normative alignment indicators. A mixed-effects location-scale model estimates the cluster-level mean and variance of cooperation as a latent variable. A cross-level interaction tests whether legitimacy predicts cooperation only in neighborhoods where the norm to cooperate is weak.
Results: Willingness to cooperate with the police clusters strongly by neighborhood and there are neighborhoods with (i) high mean and low variance, (ii) high mean and high variance, (iii) (relatively) low mean and low variance, and (iv) (relatively) low mean and high variance. Legitimacy is only a positive predictor of cooperation in neighborhoods that have a low mean and high variance. In neighborhoods where the norm to cooperate is strong, most people are willing to engage so there is little variance left over to explain.
Conclusions: Findings support a boundary condition of procedural justice theory: namely, cooperation with the police is a social norm that varies from neighborhood to neighborhood and that legitimacy only plays a role in neighborhoods where the social norm is weak.
Violência como fator socializador na construção da legitimidade da polícia: um estudo com adolescentes de São Paulo, Brasil
(Violence as a socialising factor shaping police legitimacy: a study with adolescents in São Paulo, Brazil)
Authors: Renan Theodoro, Debora Piccirillo, Aline Gomes, & Thiago R. Oliveira.
Under first review at Análise Social.
See abstractAbstract. This paper investigates how adolescents are socialised to accept or reject police violence and abuse of power, and how these dispositions influence police legitimacy. Data came from a survey with 724 participants born in 2005, residents of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Direct and indirect effects of experiences of violence and police contact over adolescents evaluations of police were estimated using structural equation modelling. Results indicate that aggressive and illegal policing, as well as exposure to violence in the neighborhood erode confidence in policing.
Do trust and legitimacy ‘arrive on foot’ and ‘leave on horseback’? A longitudinal test of the asymmetry thesis of police-citizen contact
Authors: Thiago R. Oliveira, Jon Jackson, Kristina Murphy, & Ben Bradford.
See abstractAbstract: Are trust and legitimacy hard to win and easy to lose? In this paper, we revisit the relationship between police-citizen encounters and attitudes towards the police and test the asymmetry thesis using panel data. Despite some evidence from cross-sectional studies indicating that attitudes ‘arrive on foot’ but ‘leave on horseback’, we suggest otherwise based on a longitudinal test comparing changes in trustworthiness and legitimacy. Drawing on data from a two-wave panel study of a nationally representative sample of Australian citizens, we measured (a) police-citizen encounters between waves 1 and 2, (b) satisfaction with process and outcome during those encounters, (c) respondents’ trust in police fairness and effectiveness, and (d) duty to obey the police (legitimacy). Analysis is carried out using autoregressive structural equation modeling. Results indicate slight asymmetry for trust in police effectiveness, strong symmetry for trust in police fairness, and strong asymmetry – in the opposite direction – for duty to obey. In a further investigation, latent moderated structural models find little evidence of heterogeneity in the association between police-citizen encounters and changes in trust in police fairness and duty to obey, but prior levels of perceived effectiveness moderate the association between contact and trustworthiness. In particular for changes in procedural justice and legitimacy, the association with police-citizen encounters may not be as asymmetrical as previously thought. Policing policy implications include considering public-police interactions as a potential source for enhancing police trustworthiness and legitimacy.
Manuscript available at OSF.
Fear and legitimacy in São Paulo: police-citizen relations in a high violence, high fear context
Authors: Jon Jackson, Krisztián Pósch, Thiago R. Oliveira, Ben Bradford, Ariadne Natal, André Zanetic, & Silvia Camões.
See abstractAbstract: In this paper we examine police-citizen relations in São Paulo, Brazil. Procedural justice theory posits that legitimacy operates as part of a virtuous circle, whereby normatively appropriate police behavior encourages public self-regulation and pro-active cooperation, which then reduces the need for coercive forms of social control. A key feature of procedural justice theory is the distinction between normative (consensual) and instrumental (coercive) forms of crime-control, yet can normative and instrumental police-citizen relations be so easily disentangled in a city in which many people fear crime, some people fear police, and where the image of the police as “just another (violent) gang” still has significant cultural currency? Our analysis of the nature, predictors and potential consequences of police legitimacy highlights points of similarity and difference in police-citizen relations in this high violence, high fear city of the Global South.
Self-legitimacy and commitment to democratic policing in Brazil: assessing the support for police militarization among São Paulo military police officers
Authors: Viviane Cubas, Frederico Castelo Branco, Thiago R. Oliveira, & Justice Tankebe.
See abstractAbstract: To what extent do police officers who are confident of their own authority support (or oppose) police militarization? Previous work has established possible links between police officers’ self-legitimacy and their commitment to democratic policing, which is based on principles of citizen participation, equity and responsiveness. Understood as the process through which policing activities take more and more characteristics of the military culture and behavior, police militarization premises on the idea that police officers should be trained as if they were going to war. Based on this nearly diametrical distinction and given the positive association found between self-legitimacy and commitment to democratic policing, we ask whether self-legitimacy is negatively associated with support for police militarization. Using data from a survey of officers from the São Paulo Military Police in 2016, we assess the extent to which measures of self-legitimacy are correlated with such support controlling for agents’ identification with military values – we also assess the extent to which self-legitimacy mediates the effects or other variables on support for police militarization, such as perceived public support and perceived distributive justice within the organization. Results of structural equation models indicate that while identification with military values mediate some statistical effects of perception of work environment on support for police militarization, self-belief in authority vested in them does not.
Violent policing and public support for vigilantism: assessing the reproduction of legal cynicism in São Paulo neighbourhoods
Author: Thiago R. Oliveira
See abstractAbstract: Is aggressive policing associated with an increase in the number of pro-vigilantism legal-cynical citizens? Defined as a cultural frame in which people perceive the law and the legal institutions as illegitimate, unresponsive, and ill equipped to ensure public safety, previous work shows that legal cynicism is associated with negative experiences of police stops. In this study, I expand the conceptualisation of legal cynicism in high fear, high violence contexts and include support for vigilantism as another dimension. Drawing on three waves of data from a representative survey of adult residents of eight neighbourhoods in São Paulo, Brazil, I find two different groups of respondents within the legal cynicism cultural frame: one composed of citizens who are sceptical of the law and another of citizens who morally favour vigilantism, apart from the class of people who are normatively identified with the law and the legal institutions. Latent transition probabilities show that only the latter is stable over time. However, perceived injustice during police-initiated encounters with legal officials is associated with an inflation in both legal cynicism groups: the unjust experience of being an object of suspicion makes legal sceptical respondents more likely to remain legal sceptical; and citizens who legitimate the law and the authorities more likely to transition to the pro-vigilantism class. These findings provide evidence on the consequences of aggressive policing into other dimensions of social life, with implications to people's recognition of the ruling power of the law and the legal institutions.