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Why do people comply with the law?: legitimacy and the influence of legal institutions

Jackson, Jonathan ORCID: 0000-0003-2426-2219, Bradford, Ben ORCID: 0000-0001-5480-5638, Hough, Mike, Myhill, Andy, Quinton, Paul and Tyler, Tom R. (2012) Why do people comply with the law?: legitimacy and the influence of legal institutions. British Journal of Criminology, 52 (6). pp. 1051-1071. ISSN 0007-0955

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Identification Number: 10.1093/bjc/azs032


This paper extends Tyler’s procedural justice model of public compliance with the law. Analysing data from a national probability sample of adults in England and Wales, we present a new conceptualisation of legitimacy based not just on the recognition of power but also the justification of power. We find that people accept the police’s right to dictate appropriate behaviour, not only when they feel a duty to obey officers, but also when they believe that the institution acts according to a shared moral purpose with citizens. Highlighting a number of different routes by which institutions can influence citizen behaviour, our broader normative model provides a better framework for explaining why people are willing to comply with the law.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (ISTD)
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
K Law > KD England and Wales
JEL classification: K - Law and Economics > K4 - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior > K40 - General
Date Deposited: 28 May 2012 11:43
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2024 04:24

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