Adolescents and Legal World: A Brazilian Longitudinal Study

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Renan Theodoro de OLIVEIRA, Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil
Debora Piccirillo Barbosa da VEIGA, Centre for the Study of Violence - University of São Paulo (NEV-USP), Brazil
Aline GOMES, Center for the Study of Violence, Brazil
One of the main challenges to democracy stability is the ability and willingness of individuals to obey the laws and cooperate with public authorities. Adolescence is a crucial moment for people to form their attitudes and behaviors toward laws and to internalize social norms and orientations toward different legal authorities. This process, called “legal socialization”, includes individual understandings on how rules and laws are applied, the institutions and authorities responsible for its creation and enforcement, as well as the values that sustain them (Cohn and White, 1990; Fagan and Tyler, 2005; Trinkner and Cohn, 2014; Jeleniewski, 2014).

In Brazil, although there are considerable studies on juvenile delinquency, there is not investigations about the process through which adolescents learn about laws and authorities, and the aspects that create their decisions to comply or violate rules. Considering this scenario, a longitudinal research is been developed to understand legal socialization process with 800 adolescents born in 2005 in the largest Brazilian city, São Paulo.

This presentation explores data from the two waves (2016 and 2017) of São Paulo Legal Socialization Study (SPLSS). The main questions from this survey investigate the interactions between adolescents and authorities (parents, teachers and police officers) and explore the impact of these experiences in the development of legal attitudes. The judgments about the decision-makers’ procedures and fairness, and the way they are personally treated by them – the “procedural justice” – impact on how people will react to law enforcement and on people’s willingness to accept and comply with legal authorities (Tyler, 2004; Bottoms and Tankebe, 2012).

The longitudinal research permits to analyze the changes in the perceptions of the adolescents about the authorities and to observe how this process affects the legitimacy over time.