Social Conservatism and Legitimacy: Predicting Public Support for Police Violence in Brazil

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:40
Oral Presentation
Ariadne NATAL, Center for the Study of Violence - University of Sao Paulo (NEV-USP), Brazil
Thiago RODRIGUES OLIVEIRA, London School of Economics (LSE), United Kingdom
Who supports the excessive use of force by officers in São Paulo? Brazilian Military Police are recognized for their history of violence, abusive use of force and lethality. In the last decade, more than 3,500 people were killed by the military police in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. This study aimed at investigating the predictors of public support for police violence, particularly testing the effects of a social conservatism ideology and the role of legitimacy. It is plausible to test the hypothesis that those who recognize the police actions as legitimate are the ones who actually support the abusive use of force. Using the second wave data of a longitudinal panel started in 2015, representative of adults in São Paulo in 2017, we asked the respondents how they would evaluate the police actions after describing three unlawful scenarios: a homicide, a torture, and violence against protesters on a demonstration. We then used generalized structural equation modelling to estimate the effects of the ideology and legitimacy. Both variables were significant and positive. The results we found contribute to discussions about the relation between the public support and the permanence of police violence in Brazil.