Police-Citizen Relations Across the World: Comparing sources and contexts of trust and legitimacy (Hardback) book cover

Police-Citizen Relations Across the World

Comparing sources and contexts of trust and legitimacy

Edited by Dietrich Oberwittler, Sebastian Roché

© 2018 – Routledge

308 pages | 24 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138222861
pub: 2017-10-10
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Police-citizen relations are in the public spotlight following outbursts of anger and violence. Such clashes often happen as a response to fatal police shootings, racial or ethnic discrimination, or the mishandling of mass protests. But even in such cases, citizens’ assessment of the police differs considerably across social groups. This raises the question of the sources and impediments of citizens’ trust and support for police. Why are police-citizen relations much better in some countries than in others? Are police-minority relations doomed to be strained? And which police practices and policing policies generate trust and legitimacy?

Research on police legitimacy has been centred on US experiences, and relied on procedural justice as the main theoretical approach. This book questions whether this approach is suitable and sufficient to understand public attitudes towards the police across different countries and regions of the world. This volume shows that the impact of macro-level conditions, of societal cleavages, and of state and political institutions on police-citizen relations has too often been neglected in contemporary research.

Building on empirical studies from around the world as well as cross-national comparisons, this volume considerably expands current perspectives on the sources of police legitimacy and citizens’ trust in the police. Combining the analysis of micro-level interactions with a perspective on the contextual framework and varying national conditions, the contributions to this book illustrate the strength of a broadened perspective and lead us to ask how specific national frameworks shape the experiences of policing.


"Through its collection of essays from Europe, the United States, and non-Western countries, Police-Citizen Relations around the World both expands the horizons of the police trust and legitimacy literature, and challenges the generalizability of procedural justice assumptions. By providing a comparative and global perspective, it substantially enriches scholarly understanding of the causes of police legitimacy and effectiveness. It is an essential reading for scholars and policy makers interested in procedural justice, police legitimacy, or police effectiveness."

- Professor Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovic, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, USA

"Issues of trust in the police and of police legitimacy are among the most pressing matters facing politicians and academics. Bringing together the best scholars and the most up-to-date data, Police-Citizen Relations Across the World offers a comprehensive, global perspective on the subject. No-one interested in the subject can afford to be without it."

- Professor Tim Newburn, Department of Social Policy, LSE, UK

"This volume offers police scholars what is sorely needed – a truly cross-national, comparative perspective on the fundamental challenges of police legitimacy and public trust. The thirteen chapters present rigorous empirical inquiry by leading police researchers, who illuminate the complexities of forging strong police-community relations in a variety of settings – the U.S., Europe, and non-Western nations. They explore similarities and differences across and within national borders. They raise serious questions about the impact of procedural justice in different national settings. Police-Citizen Relations Across the World will broaden your perspective on a timeless issue for democracies around the world and shows the path for a rich new global trajectory for police research."

- Stephen Mastrofski, University Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University, USA

Table of Contents

Foreword (Michael Tonry)

Part I: Introduction

1. Towards a broader view of police-citizen relations: How societal cleavages and political contexts shape trust and distrust, legitimacy and illegitimacy (Sebastian Roché and Dietrich Oberwittler)

Part II: Police-citizen relations. Multilevel and comparative approaches: Neighbourhoods and states

2. Recent trends in police-citizen relations and police reform in the United States (Ronald Weitzer)

3. Ethnicity, group position and police legitimacy: Early findings from the European Social Survey (Ben Bradford, Jonathan Jackson and Mike Hough)

4. Ethnic disparities in police-initiated controls of adolescents and attitudes towards the police in France and Germany: A tale of four cities (Dietrich Oberwittler and Sebastian Roché)

5. Police legitimacy and public cooperation: Is Japan an outlier in the procedural justice model? (Mai Sato)

6. Why do Nigerians cooperate with the police? Legitimacy, procedural justice, and other contextual factors in Nigeria (Oluwagbenga Michael Akinlabi)

Part III: Societal cleavages and legitimacy: Minorities and religions

7. Policing marginalized groups in a diverse society: Using procedural justice to promote group belongingness and trust in police (Kristina Murphy and Adrian Cherney)

8. Adolescents’ divergent ethnic and religious identities and trust in the police. Combining micro- and macro-level determinants in a comparative analysis in France and Germany (Sebastian Roché, Anina Schwarzenbach, Dietrich Oberwittler and Jacques De Maillard)

9.The impact of the Ferguson, MO police shooting on black and non-black residents’ perceptions of police. Procedural justice, trust, and legitimacy (Tammy Rinehart Kochel)

10. Why may police disobey the law? How divisions in society are a source of the moral right to do bad: The case of Turkey (Sebastian Roché, Mine Özaşçılar and Ömer Bilen)

Part IV: Procedural justice as cause and consequence

11. Stop-and-Frisk and trust in police in Chicago (Wesley G. Skogan)

12. Good cops, bad cops: Why do police officers treat citizens (dis)respectfully? Findings from Belgium (Maarten Van Craen, Stephan Parmentier and Mina Rauschenbach)

13. Trust in the Finnish police and crime reporting—findings in the context of the Nordic countries (Juha Kääriäinen)

About the Editors

Dietrich Oberwittler is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for International and Foreign Criminal Law (Department of Criminology) in Freiburg, Germany, and extracurricular professor of sociology at the University of Freiburg.

Sebastian Roché is a Research Professor at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at Sciences-Po, University of Grenoble-Alpes, France. First secretary general of the European Society of Criminology after its foundation, he is today the regional editor (Europe) of Policing and Society.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice

Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice offers the very best in research on criminal justice systems around the world, offering fresh insights on a range of topics in criminal procedure, including policing, prisons, courts, youth justice, community measures, rehabilitation, victimology and forensics science.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology