Fostering a Culture of Lawfulness: Examining the Pathway to Resiliency Between Support for the Police, Legal Reasoning, and Behavior Amongst Mexican Youths

Heath B. Grant, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Somewhere near where the border of the Unites States ends and Mexico begins is a new hybrid area representing more than 24 million people that some authors refer to as "Amexica" (Gibson, 2001). Although spurred by the benfits of trade, both borders struggle with poverty, social disorganization, and crime. The question remains how to develop an overall culture of lawfulness in which the majority of people support law-abiding behavior, under such existing conditions along the US/Mexico border. Although the construct of legal and moral reasoning as resiliency has been suggested for years, no empirical work of this nature has examined the pathway between the social factors and legal reasoning that is said to lead to conforming behavior. The current study seeks to develop a casual model that links perceptions of law enforcement validity, community risk factors, the proposed resiliency factor of legal reasoning, obligation to obey the law, and non-conforming behavior. The study is unprecedented in the field of legal socialization in terms of its sample size of over 10,000 respondents and will allow for future replications to examine cross-cultural applications.

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Updated 05/20/2006