Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Eric L. Piza

Committee Members

Lila Kazemian

Lorraine Mazerolle

Kevin T. Wolff

Subject Categories

Criminology | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Social Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction


social identity theory, narrative identity theory, legitimacy, police, criminal justice system, legal estrangement, legal cynicism, race and ethnicity


Identity is of central importance in the subjective experience of justice and assessments of legitimacy. In this study, the researcher explores whether perceptions of legitimacy are constructed differently across social group identity, particularly where social groups differ in relation to government (e.g., outgroup or ingroup). The analyses are conducted using data from a procedural justice study conducted in two U. S. cities. The findings suggest evidence of a generally similar construction of legitimacy though with important dissimilarities based on social group. Additionally, certain respondents’ narratives follow common narrative scripts in describing interactions with police, suggestive of a shared master narrative that guides interpretations among members of a marginalized social group. I used three theories of identity to explore:

  • Do different social groups assess the legitimacy of criminal justice system (CJS) officials similarly or differently?
  • Do social groups that view government as an ingroup resource consider an authority figure’s intragroup role in assessing CJS legitimacy?
  • Is the link between procedural justice and legitimacy mediated by individuals’ ingroup or outgroup status in relation to the government?
  • Do marginalized outgroups interpret their perceptions of government through collective frames like cultural master narratives or through individual experiences?