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Race/ethnicity, discrimination, and confidence in order institutions


Published online on


Policing: An International Journal, Volume 41, Issue 6, Page 704-720, December 2018.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to propose and test a conceptual model that explains racially/ethnically differential confidence in order institutions through a mediating mechanism of perception of discrimination. Design/methodology/approach This study relies on a nationally representative sample of 1,001 respondents and path analysis to test the relationships between race/ethnicity, multiple mediating factors, and confidence in order institutions. Findings Both African and Latino Americans reported significantly lower levels of confidence compared to White Americans. People who have stronger senses of being discriminated against, regardless of their races, have reduced confidence. A range of other cognitive/evaluative variables have promoted or inhibited people’s confidence in order institutions. Research limitations/implications This study relies on cross-sectional data which preclude definite inferences regarding causal relationships among the variables. Some measures are limited due to constraint of data. Practical implications To lessen discrimination, both actual and perceived, officials from order institutions should act fairly and impartially, recognize citizen rights, and treat people with respect and dignity. In addition, comprehensive measures involving interventions throughout the entire criminal justice system to reduce racial inequalities should be in place. Social implications Equal protection and application of the law by order institutions are imperative, so are social policies that aim to close the structural gaps among all races and ethnicities. Originality/value This paper takes an innovative effort of incorporating the currently dominant group position perspective and the injustice perspective into an integrated account of the process by which race and ethnicity affect the perception of discrimination, which, in turn, links to confidence in order institutions.