Going Outside the Law: the Role of the State in Shaping Attitudes to Private Acts of Violence

Aziz Huq
Jonathan Jackson, Ben Bradford, Tom Tyler

Why do people believe it is acceptable to resort to private or informal violence? A new study of young men from various ethnic minority communities in London links procedural justice and police legitimacy to public attitudes towards violence as a form of social control (as a substitute for the police) and attitudes towards violence as a tool for social change (through violent protests, or terrorism). Prior studies have conceptualized legitimacy as public recognition and justification of the power of the police. Yet legitimacy may have an additional and hitherto unrecognized empirical property. Legitimacy may also be public recognition that the state has a monopoly over use of force in society.