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Legitimacy in a Postcolonial Legal System: Public Perception of Procedural Justice and Moral Alignment Toward the Courts in Hong Kong

  • Kevin Kwok-yin Cheng


Legitimacy is said to be comprised of two underlying constructs: obligation to obey and moral alignment. However, legitimacy studies are mainly derived from contexts where the legal system has evolved naturally and is said to reflect the values of society. There is a paucity of research measuring public perceptions of legitimacy in postcolonial settings such as Hong Kong where the legal system was initially transplanted and many of its values may not reflect those of the local population. Procedural justice has been asserted to be a primary antecedent by which legal authorities improve their legitimacy and moral alignment. This study examines whether procedural justice is positively associated with legitimacy and moral alignment with the courts. Moreover, this study tests whether legitimacy is positively associated with cooperation with the courts. Using a random survey of the Hong Kong general population, both questions are answered in the affirmative. Implications are discussed.



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