Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Identity, legitimacy and cooperation with police: comparing general population and a London street population

A., Kyprianides, Bradford, Ben, Jackson, Jonathan, Yesberg, J, Stott, C and Radburn, M (2021) Identity, legitimacy and cooperation with police: comparing general population and a London street population. Psychology, Public Policy and Law. ISSN 1076-8971

[img] Text (Identity, legitimacy and cooperation with police) - Accepted Version
Download (413kB)


Social identity is a core aspect of procedural justice theory, which predicts that fair treatment at the hands of power holders such as police expresses, communicates and generates feelings of inclusion, status and belonging within salient social categories. In turn, a sense of shared group membership with power-holders, with police officers as powerful symbolic representatives of “law-abiding society”, engenders trust, legitimacy and cooperation. Yet, this aspect of the theory is rarely explicitly considered in empirical research. Moreover, the theory rests on the under-examined assumption that the police represent one fixed and stable superordinate group, including the often marginalised people with whom they interact, and that it is only superordinate identification that is important to legitimacy and cooperation. In this paper we present results from two UK-based studies that explore the identity dynamics of procedural justice theory. We reason that the police represent not only that the ‘law-abiding, national citizen’ superordinate group, but also a symbol of order/conflict and a range of connected social categories that can generate relational identification. First, we use a general population sample to show that relational identification with police, as well as identification as a ‘law-abiding citizen’, mediate some of association between procedural justice and legitimacy and are both stronger predictors of cooperation than legitimacy. Second, a sample of people living on the streets of London is used to explore these same relationships among a highly marginalised group for whom the police might represent a salient outgroup. We find that relational and superordinate identification are both strong positive predictors of cooperation, while legitimacy is not. These results have important implications for our understanding of both police legitimacy and public cooperation, as well as the extent to which police activity can serve to include—or exclude—members of the public.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 APA
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2021 12:33
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 13:27

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics