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Legitimacy and Criminal JusticeAn International Exploration$
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Justice Tankebe and Alison Liebling

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701996.001.0001

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Does Low Legitimacy Cause Crime? A Review Of The Evidence

Does Low Legitimacy Cause Crime? A Review Of The Evidence

(p.308) 15 Does Low Legitimacy Cause Crime? A Review Of The Evidence
Legitimacy and Criminal Justice

Manuel Eisner

Amy Nivette

Oxford University Press

Some scholars argue that legitimacy (i.e. the right to rule) should be at the core of criminology as the science of rule making, rule breaking and rule enforcement (Bottoms & Tankebe, 2012; LaFree, 1998; Tyler, 1990). The claim is that legitimacy is a crucial theoretical construct for understanding the link between social order and crime, for explaining the motivations behind compliance with the law, and in bridging the gap between macro- and micro explanations of crime. This chapter reviews the empirical literature on whether legitimacy predicts crime. Findings suggest a weak effect in the predicted direction. However, it also identifies a number of limitations that future research should address. They include: 1) more consistent operationalisation of legitimacy, 2) better statistical control for potential confounding factors, 3) tests for alternative assumptions of the causal order between legitimacy and crime, 4) integration of macro- and micro-level research, and 5) more cross-cultural comparison.

Keywords:   political legitimacy, procedural justice, homicide, self-regulation

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