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Incorporating consensus and conflict into the legitimacy of law

Crime, Law and Social Change

Published online on


Recent research on the legitimacy of law is dominated by the confirmed effect of procedural justice on views of legitimacy. The procedural justice research, however, neglects the substantive component of law and how that substance may conflict with value systems of the various subcultures that constitute a complex society. This paper reviews classic and contemporary theory, as well as supporting empirical criminological research, in order to argue that views of the legitimacy of a given law can also be affected by such conflicting value sets. Allotting subculture a central influence, a model is proposed that integrates a sociological conception of the legitimacy of law with the existing research from psychology on procedural justice.