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Journal cover: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management

ISSN: 1363-951X
Previously published as: Police Studies: Intnl Review of Police Development
Incorporates: American Journal of Police

Online from: 1997

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Group consciousness, identity and perceptions of unfair police treatment among Mexican Americans


Document Information:
Title:Group consciousness, identity and perceptions of unfair police treatment among Mexican Americans
Author(s):Gia Elise Barboza, (Department of African American Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Citation:Gia Elise Barboza, (2012) "Group consciousness, identity and perceptions of unfair police treatment among Mexican Americans", Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Vol. 35 Iss: 3, pp.505 - 527
Keywords:Citizen complaints, Citizen satisfaction, Discrimination, Ethnic groups, Legitimacy, Police, Public perceptions, Quality of policing, United States of America
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/13639511211250776 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between global and specific attitudes of unfair police treatment towards Mexican Americans and how attitudes towards the police vary with socio-demographic characteristics, victim status, linguistic barriers, group consciousness and socially disorganized contexts.

Design/methodology/approach – Data from the 2006 National Latino Survey, which is a representative random sample of 1,815 self-identified persons of Mexican-origin born in the USA were used to investigate three research questions: What is the prevalence in which Mexican-Americans claim to be treated unfairly by the police?; What is the prevalence in which Mexican-Americans perceive unfair treatment toward their ethnic group?; and Do cultural factors and/or heightened group consciousness and identity contribute to Mexican-Americans perceptions of either specific or more generalized unfair police treatment? A structural equation model was developed to explore the relationship between global and specific measures of unfair police treatment and variables measuring socio-demographic and linguistic characteristics, as well as socially disorganized contexts, group consciousness and identity.

Findings – Mexican-Americans residing in socially disorganized contexts are significantly more likely to have positive global assessments of the police. The relationship between both social disorganization and specific and global attitudes was statistically significant. Individuals who have a strong sense of linked fate, possess a shared sense of common purpose and interest, and identify strongly with their ethnic group are significantly more likely to perceive that the police treat their group unfairly.

Research limitations/implications – The current investigation is limited by the nature of the data, which is based wholly on self-report. In addition, while the frequency and nature of police contact plays a role in influencing negative perceptions of police encounters, it was not possible to assess those influences here. Finally, the current analysis is limited by the cross-sectional nature of the data and no inferences regarding causality can be made.

Practical implications – This study has implications for the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and will help criminal justice actors understand the broader implications of police-citizen interactions.

Social implications – The paper shows how social interactions are affected by group membership.

Originality/value – No study to date explores the relationship between group-based identity, group consciousness and perceptions of unfair treatment by the police. These studies are usually limited to the political science literature.



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