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This study investigates the role of social influence, in the context of the professional relations between Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs), and the young people they work with. Of specific importance is the concept of procedural justice, and its relation to perceptions of legitimacy and compliance dynamics. The aim of the research was to investigate whether the particular interaction patterns, enabled in the context of the JLOs professional role, could be found to have a positive impact upon young people’s levels of compliance with legal authority, in and of themselves. In order to examine this element of lived experience, five semi structured interviews were conducted with serving JLOs in the Irish context. Findings were codified thematically and subjected to an integrated process of inductive and deductive reasoning, informed by existing literature on social influence, procedural justice and compliance theory. Results suggested that patterns of procedural justice are central to the work of Garda JLOs, and are essential to their ability to develop positive relations with the young people with whom they work. Evidence was found to suggest that this dynamic promotes the perception of JLOs as legitimate figures of authority on the part of young people, providing an important forum through which young people’s resistance to the Gardai as an institution can be addressed, and internalised respect for legal authority can be promoted. The knowledge gained through this study provides information relevant to police training and service provision, highlights the importance of the JLOs role in securing behavioural compliance from young people, as well as the Gardai Youth Diversion Projects themselves, and adds to the existing body of literature regarding social influence on compliance dynamics. Furthermore the research has highlighted some specific areas for further study, the pursuit of which would serve to deepen understanding with regards to this particular contextual aspect of behavioural motivation.
Morrison, Eoin (2013) Policing and Social Influence: Procedural Justice and Compliance Dynamics in the Work of Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers. Masters Dissertation, Technological University Dublin.