This conceptual article contributes to the scientific debate on police culture and police legitimacy by exploring and refining the concept of self-legitimacy. It argues that endogenously constructed self-legitimacy co-produces and reinforces certain core characteristics of police culture. ‘Self-legitimacy’ in this context is the degree to which those in power believe in the moral justice of their power. Endogenous self-legitimation processes occur when officers identify with the professional police identity and the police organisation, and self-legitimacy is brought about by those in power attributing unique characteristics to themselves and seeking validation from an inner circle of similar power-holders. Drawing on the analysis, suggestions are made on how police culture and police legitimacy can be influenced by facilitating a shift in officers’ perception of their ‘professional identity’.
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© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
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- Police culture
- police legitimacy