Justice, Legality and Legitimacy: Youth Sense and Use Of Legal Norms In Urban Contexts In Latin America

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: Booth 58
Oral Presentation
Arturo ALVARADO , Sociology, El Colegio de México, Mexico DF, Mexico
In the midst of am extremely violent war against drugs, against gangs and organized crime, Latin American elites have implemented a series of disputable institutional reforms to the justice and legal systems. This implementation has been corroded by the inability of the same elites to perform and even respect these regulations, because there is strong corruption and impunity mainly among the political elites.

In the middle of these battles, youth population has been targeted—blamed for the major crimes that are committed by different armed legal actors. One important issue is youth involvement in these illegal activities. Another is juvenile perception of changes and, even more, socialization and acceptation of the new limited legal norms (such as the provision policies against drugs).

This paper will present a result of a comparative study of youth conceptions of norms and their sense of legitimacy and justice in 10 Latin American cities.

This paper claims that in spite of the sociological general opinion about legal cynism, juvenile population in Latin America knows and even accept legal norms, and use them to a certain point in more practical terms than the rhetorical strict social behavior. But they contested certain conceptions that they consider unfair and unjust. They know that laws and regulations are very limited, some of the unfair, particularly when they target-label youth people as potential criminals. They consider this new context unfair, discriminatory, but they tend to accept and aspire to an overall fair and equal system of justice, a regime that political elites and regulations have not been able to provide for this population. The paper is based in focus groups and surveys develop in 2012 in 10 Latin-American cities, about the uses and acceptation of legal norms.