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From personal experience to moral identification: The roots of trust, confidence and police legitimacy.

Bradford, Benjamin (2010) From personal experience to moral identification: The roots of trust, confidence and police legitimacy. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Contacts between police and public form here the starting point for an investigation into trust, confidence and legitimacy in relation to the British police. The ways in which people 'read' and judge encounters with the police, the messages they take from them, and implications for trust and legitimacy are key empirical concerns. The procedural justice model developed by Tom Tyler and colleagues constitutes the key theoretical reference point. This theory suggests that in their dealings with legal authorities people value fairness, respect and openness over instrumental concerns, and that procedural fairness is linked to enhanced trust, legitimacy and cooperation. The social-psychological insights of the procedural justice model are combined with more sociologically oriented accounts of the nature of policing in 'late-modern' Britain. The five papers presented demonstrate, first, that the influence of contact experiences on public confidence in the police has grown over time, just as the salience of other factors has declined. Second, personal experience affects important aspects or components of trust; judgements about police effectiveness, fairness and engagement with the community. Third, individuals do appear to value procedural fairness over instrumental outcomes, and fair treatment is linked with both higher confidence and a greater propensity to accept police decisions. Fourth, wider concerns may be as important as personal experience. The social and cultural position of the British police - what it represents - is a key factor in trust judgements. Finally, police legitimacy is implicated in basic psychological needs to maintain and reproduce order, suggesting that it is to an extent prior to any active assessments of the police organisation. In sum, contact matters, and it is judged in ways congruent with procedural justice theory. But assessments of the effect of contact on confidence must be placed within a broader understanding of the social and cultural meaning of the police.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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