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Predictors of self-legitimacy among military police officers in São Paulo, Brazil

Viviane de Oliveira Cubas ( Center for the Study of Violence , University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Frederico Castelo Branco ( Center for the Study of Violence , University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
André Rodrigues de Oliveira ( Center for the Study of Violence , University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Fernanda Novaes Cruz ( Center for the Study of Violence , University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 29 July 2021

Issue publication date: 22 October 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The authors examine predictors of self-legitimacy for police officers belonging to the Military Police force of São Paulo (Brazil). Considering the variables mobilized by the literature on self-legitimacy, the authors seek to identify what explains the self-legitimacy of militarized police officers.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was applied to 298 frontline police officers in the city of São Paulo, analyzing indicators separated into two groups: relationship dimension and organizational dimension. An ordinary least square model is used to test the “relationship” and “organizational” variables on police officers' self-legitimacy.

Findings

Effectiveness is the strongest predictor for self-legitimacy. Organizational justice and distributive justice also present important effects, as the perception of citizens' attitudes toward police reinforces the conception of self-legitimacy as a dialogical construct, comprising here the public's expectations of police work as well as the police officers' perceptions that they are respected and considered important by the public.

Originality/value

There are no other studies on self-legitimacy related to Brazilian police officers or exploring these aspects among police officers submitted to a militarized structure. These results contribute to the ongoing debate on the militarization of police activities and their possible effects on police legitimacy.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study received financial support grant# 2013-07923-7, São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), as part of the project “Building democracy daily: human rights, violence, and institutional trust”, developed by the Center for the Study of Violence of the University of São Paulo (NEV/USP).

Citation

Cubas, V.d.O., Castelo Branco, F., Oliveira, A.R.d. and Cruz, F.N. (2021), "Predictors of self-legitimacy among military police officers in São Paulo, Brazil", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 1140-1153. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-05-2021-0066

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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