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Legitimacy, trust and legal cynicism: a review of concepts

Rodrigues Oliveira, Thiago and Jackson, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0003-2426-2219 (2021) Legitimacy, trust and legal cynicism: a review of concepts. Tempo Social, 33 (3). pp. 113-145. ISSN 1809-4554

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Identification Number: 10.11606/0103-2070.ts.2021.191381


We review the concepts of legitimacy, trust, and legal cynicism in the context the debate about police legitimacy, discuss the extent to which these concepts relate to each other, and offer some early, speculative thoughts on a how relational model of legitimacy can extend beyond procedural justice concerns. Relying upon procedural justice theory, we emphasise the distinction between police legitimacy and legitimation: popular legitimacy is defined as public beliefs that legal authority has the right to rule (people acknowledge the moral appropriateness of legal authority) and the authority to govern (people recognise legal authority as the rightful authority), whereas legitimation is related to the criteria people use to judge the normative appropriateness of legal agents’ exercise of power (e.g., the extent to which police officers are trustworthy to behave in accordance with people’s normative expectations). Building on studies on legal cynicism and legal socialisation, we consider how other aspects of police conduct can send negative relational messages about people’s value within society and undermine their judgements about the legitimacy of legal authority – messages of oppression, marginalisation, and neglect over the life course. We conclude suggesting avenues for future research on public-police relations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2021 16:30
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 00:30

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