Institut for Statskundskab

Perceived Policy Illegitimacy Leads to Acceptance of Political Violence: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey Experiment in Denmark

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Unfortunately, the question of which factors that might drive citizens to accept and engage in violence remains pivotal. When answering it, scholars have been preoccupied with psychological and psychopathological factors, often in interplay with social networks, recruitment and intergroup dynamics. They seldom mention the importance of citizens’ perceptions of policy illegitimacy despite it being central to the stated rationale for political violence in many instances. This shortcoming along with a lack of experimental studies limits our evidence of policy illegitimacy’s role in relation to acceptance of political violence. By using a novel experimental survey design with more than 1,500 respondents, this article tests whether policy illegitimacy increases acceptance of political violence and (if so) under which circumstances. In a nationally representative sample, treated respondents interacted with a fictional policy designed to induce policy illegitimacy. Treated respondents reported a significantly higher willingness to accept violence compared to those in the control condition. The effect was stable across ideological divides and other prevalent explanations in the literature. This study offers a promising starting point for “bringing policy back” as a potential explanation for acceptance of political violence along with pushing the still neglected experimental research agenda in this research area.
TidsskriftTerrorism and Political Violence
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 20 maj 2022

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