Crises of Legitimization Among Self, Group, and System: A Theoretical Integration

By John T. JostDiana BurgessChristina Mosso
1999| Working Paper No. 1556

Several decades of research on the psychology of justice leads one to the almost overwhelming conclusion that people generally prefer to believe that the social system to which they belong is fair, legitimate, and justifiable than that it is capricious, unfair, or illegimate (e.g., Crosby, 1982; Jennings, 1991; Joat, 1995, Lerner, 1980; Major, 1994; martin, 1986; Tyler & McGraw, 1986). This general proposition seems to be upheld even in social systems that produce egregious levels of inequality (e.g., Dumont, 1970; Kluegel & Smith, 1986; Lane, 1962), such as the industrial capitalist system criticized so harhly by Dorothy Day and other socialist activists of 19th and 20th centuries.