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Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89

DOI 10.1007/s11417-011-9102-2

Delinquency and Crime Among Youths
in the Philippines: A Test of Legal Cynicism

Raymund Espinosa Narag & Melchor De Guzman

Received: 15 September 2010 / Accepted: 1 February 2011 /
Published online: 3 March 2011
# Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Abstract The construct of legal cynicism is gaining currency in the United States and other
western developed countries in explaining why people break the law. This construct is
viable in societies with strong economies and mature political and criminal justice
institutions. This paper asks whether the construct of legal cynicism is applicable in
societies with differing economic, political and social conditions. Specifically, the paper
investigates whether legal cynicism can explain the delinquent behaviors of youths in the
Philippines. Despite diligent efforts to duplicate the measures of legal cynicism, the paper
finds that this construct is a weak predictor of youth delinquent behaviors. This
contradictory finding is explained by looking at the historical and sociopolitical conditions
of the country.

Keywords Legal cynicism . Comparative criminology . Developing country . Youth


Criminological theories formulated in Western societies have been continuously adopted to
explain criminal behaviors of individuals everywhere (Cohen 1986). This trend has
produced an assumption that the criminological knowledge in the West has universal
application. However, some post-colonialist scholars argue that this assumption must be
questioned considering the vast differences in the economic, cultural and legal context of
where individuals are located (Agozino 2004; 2005; Cohen 2003). Post-colonialist scholars
question whether or not criminological theories that emanate in societies where the

R. E. Narag (*)
School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, 12 Baker Hall, MSU, East Lansing, MI 48823,

M. De Guzman
College of Brockport at the State University of New York, 350 New Campus Dr. Brockport, NY 14420,

In a face-to-face interview of 215 children and adolescents selected through random sampling from two contrasting neighborhoods (in terms of racial and economic composition) in New York City. Literature Review Western scholars have argued that individuals with high levels of legal cynicism are more prone to committing criminal and violent behaviors. and where legal systems are continually challenged by non-state actors (Agozino 2004. This paper used a popular western criminological concept called legal cynicism and examined whether its predictions hold true in an Asian developing country setting. Sampson et al. Karstedt 2001). Lacy 2004). The extent that individuals have low regard for laws and legal institutions based on the different dimensions noted above indicates their levels of legal cynicism. family and other . Theoretical Perspective Western scholars have noted that individuals have varying views on laws and legal institution (Sampson and Bartusch 1998. and where legal systems are more or less based on the rule of law (Rosenfeld 2000). where cultures are more collectivistic. In a longitudinal study (three years) of youths aged 18 to 25 in Chicago. where cultures are more individualistic (Karstedt 2001). This paper used a positivistic methodology to investigate the claims of a western theory. Western scholars have mustered evidence to support this view. can also be used to explain criminal behaviors in societies where the economies are more agrarian and partly industrialized. political and social realities of the importing country. It has also been measured by investigating how legitimate individuals perceive their governments to be (Tyler 2003) or how effective is the government in delivering services (Bridenball and Jesilow 2008). thus resulting in what political scientists call the “rule of men” (Gramm 1973. particularly the police. Similarly. Tyler (1991) has theorized that citizens are more likely to break the law and commit crimes when they do not believe in the morality of the law and in the legitimacy of the government making the law. Other ways used to measure these varying views is to look at how individuals perceive the credibility of legal institutions. in creating sanctioning threats for those who break rules (risk) and in fairly distributing police services across people and communities (distributive fairness) (Sunshine and Tyler 2003). This variation in views has been measured by asking individuals for their legal beliefs. may in fact worsen the local conditions. whether “is it okay to break the law once in a while?” or “is it okay to break the law as long as no one is hurt?” (Sampson and Bartusch 1998). social. Specifically. when applied without regard to the cultural. a study in Chicago neighborhoods found that levels of legal cynicism are related to homicide rates even after controlling for neighborhood structural characteristics. that is. More importantly. Tyler 2003). This paper contributes to this postcolonialist challenge and seeks to test the explanatory power of a theory of western origin. Fagan and Tyler (2005) found that perceptions of legitimacy are related to compliance with the law.76 Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 economies are industrialized. particularly in controlling crime (Sunshine and Tyler 2003). post-colonial scholars maintain that criminological policies developed in the West. the Philippines. (2005) found that legal cynicism is related to the odds of committing violent acts even after controlling for individual.

For example. for example. Deterrence theory can therefore be restated to mean that individuals with high levels of legal cynicism cannot be deterred . legal cynicism is also compatible with social control theory (Hirschi 1996). Also. the notion of legal cynicism is compatible with the differential association theory’s assertion that criminal or deviant behaviors are learned. The author immersed for prolonged periods in these communities and observed how residents negotiate their day-to-day existence. While differential association theory has been criticized for assuming that individuals need to be perfectly socialized to criminal behaviors before committing a crime (Kornhauser 1978. While seemingly on the other side of the theoretical debate. differential association theory can be restated to mean that individuals with higher levels of legal cynicism have an increased predisposition towards favorable definitions of crime. He concluded that residents had developed aversion towards and contempt for the police and other legal institutions such that they employed their own brand of street justice when they were aggrieved. which then increased violent crime rates (Anderson 1999). the threat of punishments and its attendant risk must be properly conveyed to individuals. Deterrence theory suggests that. may be socialized by their peers to the belief that vandalism and breaking other people’s property are normal activities in order to be accepted in their cliques. Social control theory can therefore be restated that. Hirschi 1996. the restraining value of these factors are broken. Individuals living in communities where residents have low regard for the law and legal institutions may be socialized to the same kind of legal belief systems. when individuals do not believe in the morality of the law and in the legitimacy of the government (Tyler 1991). These individual. Kane (2005). Kubrin and Weitzer (2003) noted that even residents who maintained conventional law-abiding value systems may believe that violence become inevitable in their neighborhoods due to the absence of legitimate formal social control. the deterrence theory is compatible with the claims of legal cynicism since both theories emphasize the diminishing threat of legal sanctions (Nagin and Paternoster 1993). Also. using neighborhoods as units of analysis in a longitudinal study (22 years) in the state of New York. minimize the threat of legal sanctions. social control theory emphasizes the role of moral beliefs as restraining factors from committing crimes. but rather on the attenuation of the individuals’ moral and legal beliefs. found that extremely disadvantaged neighborhoods that are overly-policed and where there are elevated instances of police misconduct (the proxy measure for legal cynicism) have higher crime rates. however. Specifically. Individuals with high levels of cynicism. In an ethnographic study in a disadvantaged community in Philadelphia.and community-level studies on legal cynicism are consistent with the more traditional Western explanations of criminal behaviors and higher crime rates. Finally. but see Akers 1996. Specifically. Legal cynicism is also compatible with Matza’s (1964) more refined proposition suggesting that youths may drift in and out of involvement in criminal activities and employ the legally cynical beliefs in certain contexts to justify their behavior (Sykes and Matza 1957). Youths.Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 77 neighborhood context variables. Sutherland’s (1947) differential association theory is compatible with the predictions of legal cynicism since both theories emphasize how would-be criminals downplay the consequences of their illegal actions. Anderson (1999) reported that the low level of police legitimacy resulted tino residents relying on their own codes and rules to resolve their conflicts. Kubrin and Weitzer (2003) also noted that perceptions of police illegitimacy led some residents of structurally disadvantaged communities to engage in violence because of the belief that police would be unresponsive to intervention requests. to be effective. The emphasis here is not on the socialization of individuals towards criminal beliefs. Matsueda 1997).

as high-SES African Americans were found to have elevated perception levels of police bias (Weitzer and Tuch 2005). a number of studies have found that younger people are more likely to express negative attitudes toward the police and other legal institutions (Brown and Coulter 1983. as Western scholars reckoned. However. In terms of age. African Americans. Murphy and Worrall 1999). However. (2007) found that youths in three racially-grouped disadvantaged neighborhoods in Philadelphia (i. Conversely. adults generally express more trust in the law and government officials than younger people (Tyler 2003). This. Our goal is not theory competition since our dataset does not permit us to test variables that specify the pathway in which legal cynicism affects delinquent behavior. if governments can decrease the levels of cynicism to the laws and legal institutions. whereas Hispanics have more favorable views than African Americans. In terms of socioeconomic status (SES). more educated people are less likely to express negative attitudes (Jesilow and Mayer 2001. we suggest here that the concept of legal cynicism can straddle both theoretical fences. Sampson and Bartusch 1998. African Americans are less likely than Whites to trust the police (Harris 1999. Carr et al. Our more modest goal is simply to test if this concept is related to delinquent behaviors in a setting outside the West. Reisig and Giacomazzi 1998.e. Worrall 1999).. Personal experiences had also been found to be related with legal cynicism. as one study found that. thereby removing the moral barriers for would-be offenders to commit crime. Hispanic views about the police are less favorable than Whites (Carter 1985. Correia et al. scholars investigated the factors related to elevated levels of legal cynicism. in terms of education. most studies found that ethnic minorities are more likely to express negative attitudes towards the police (Bayley and Mendelsohn 1968. Reisig and Parks 2000). However. but eventually lowers when they mature (Fagan and Tyler 2005). Whites. for children and adolescents. Reisig and Correia 1997. women are more likely to view the police and other legal institutions favorably (Cheurprakobkit 2000. indeed. Sampson and Bartusch 1998). In terms of gender. an analysis of a national survey in the United States indicated that SES may also interact with race. 1996. Residents who live in neighborhoods that have elevated levels of fear were more likely to disapprove of their police and other legal institutions (Reisig and Correia 1997. Sampson and Bartusch 1998). the relationship of age and legal cynicism may not be linear. In terms of race/ethnicity. has wide policy appeal because. personal experiences of discrimination with governmental authorities may aggravate the citizens’ distrust of the laws and legal 1 While we recognize the unsettled role of moral beliefs in the debate between differential association (and cultural deviance theories in general) and social control theories. These more positive views about the police were more pronounced among educated Whites (Weitzer and Tuch 1999). high SES is related to lower legal cynicism (Sampson and Bartusch 1998).78 Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 despite the severity and celerity of punishments. Finally. 2008). then this could lead to more proactive ways to reduce crime. Jacob 1971). Benson 1981. Individual level demographics have been found to be related to legal cynicism. Schuck et al.1 Predictors of Legal Cynicism Given the salience of legal cynicism in explaining unlawful and criminal behaviors and its compatibility with the earlier and more established Western criminological theories. . legal cynicism increases from age 10 to 21. However. Also. Lasley 1994. For example. these race/ethnicity differences become insignificant when the neighborhood characteristics are taken into account. and Hispanics) all shared negative views about the police.

In addition. education (trichotomous). Face-to-face interviews were used in gathering demographic and attitudinal information. In this survey. These empirical findings give credence to the idea that legal cynicism might work correctly in societies such as the United States. For the other variables. California. it can be assumed that they are released from any moral restraints and thus may commit crime. after controlling for individual demographic and experiential variables. their perspectives about the government.Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 79 institutions.200 youths aged 15 to 30 that were gathered by a nationally acclaimed polling agency. The higher scores indicated that respondents were more satisfied. would the concept of legal cynicism be applicable in the Philippines? Methods Data for the study were from a 1997 national multi-stage random sample of 1. Perception of safety in the neighborhood was operationalized by aggregating three Likert-type items that asked how satisfied the respondents were in their neighborhoods. how satisfied were they in their personal safety. a sealed envelope was utilized for the self-reported criminal and offending behaviors. The question. Thus. Age (continuous). In addition. citizens having negative contacts with the police expressed lower levels of perceptions about the police (Bridenball and Jesilow 2008). the operationaliza- tion was more flexible in order to reflect the realities of the Philippine setting. in the United States and other Western societies. experiential variables such as neighborhood levels of safety and incidents of discrimination are related to legal cynicism. and their offending behaviors. in order to reduce social reactivity. the Social Weather Station. For example. gender (dichotomous). In the same vein. 1). and locale (dichotomous) were the demographic variables used. Independent and Dependent Variables The western literature suggests that demographic characteristics like age. since law violators havea relatively higher chance of being caught and actually being punished in Western societies. there is relatively general acceptance of the rule of law and the legal institutions have developed relatively strong mechanisms to impose sanctions against those who violate the laws. however. . These variables were operationalized in a manner similar to the Western literature. and what were their perceptions of the security of their properties. In a community survey in Santa Cruz. Legal cynicism is expected to be related to offending behaviors. racial minority status. This may be because. These findings in the Western literature are used to generate testable hypotheses on the predictors of legal cynicism and its impact on offending behaviors (see Fig. it can also be assumed that it pays for most individuals to stay legally committed. However. is would the concept of legal cynicism hold true in societies where there is a general contempt on the rule of law and where legal institutions have weak mechanisms to punish the violators? Particularly. education and locale are related to legal cynicism. socioeconomic status. gender. when individuals are legally cynical. the youths were polled on their views on life. Perhaps fairness in how criminal justice agencies perform their duties would result in lower levels of legal cynicism. These are two key assumptions that make the concept of legal cynicism work. these studies demonstrated that improving the relations of the police and other legal institutions with the citizens were instrumental in gaining the people’s trust and confidence.

This item was therefore preferred as an indicator of SES. that is. ethnicity. we substituted these two indicators in the statistical analyses. in the line. the category Catholics was designated as the majority. poor). robbery. age. while the religious minority members included Muslims and others. there has been an intractable problem of religious separatism posed by Filipino Muslims and Christians (Bertrand 2000. Socio-economic status (SES) was measured using a self-report of where the respondents placed themselves on a show card (not poor.2 For experiences of discrimination. However.80 Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 Age Gender Religious Minority Legal Cynicism 1: Governmental Support Delinquent and SES criminal behaviors: Drug use. theft. In the Philippines. 2 Another indicator is the class of dwelling. “in the line”. Majul 1973. disability status. there is no race/ethnicity issue that is as salient in most Western societies. Noble 1976). forced sex. sexual orientation. when translated in the national language. respondents were asked about seven items as to whether they had been discriminated against because of their particular demographic status (that is gender. We chose the former indicator as respondents who live in high quality housing may still perceive themselves to be on the line. Education encounter with the Legal Cynicism 2: police Governmental Locale Participation Neighborhood safety Discrimination Fig 1 Conceptual model of the predictors of legal cynicism and its influence on crime. They have yielded identical results. This proxy measure for “experiences of discrimina- tion” should still be predictive of the levels of legal cynicism considering that those who were discriminated on these grounds may feel that the government and the legal institutions have not done enough to protect their interests. However. Thus. means “nasa guhit” and connotes the psychological sense of being on the poverty line. the dataset did not have items that asked respondents of their experience of discrimination with the police and other legal institutions. . in the Philippines. Gowing 1979. However. It must be noted tha. and religious affiliation). where the interviewers classified the respondents on the quality of housing in which the respondents lived. educational background. religious affiliation was used. instead of using the construct race/ethnicity to incorporate the impact of racial minority status. those who lived in high class subdivisions were designated high social status. as a proxy measure.

Respondents who perceive that SK is most helpful may develop an attachment to the legal institutions. Further diagnostics also showed that there were no problems related to missing data and outliers. This result indicates that the respondents were generally satisfied with the neighborhood where they live and the safety and security it offered to . This was 6-point response scale (Very big help. In terms of neighborhood levels of safety. Logistic regression was utilized in determining the factors that are related to legal cynicism and offending behaviors. Fifty percent of the respondents were males. These five items were answerable by Yes/No. These demographic characteristics of the respondents approximated to the 1995 Census data in the Philippines. The majority (62. There were five items used for the offending behavior. Big help. and another 68% had reached “some vocational” education. Not sure. First. This item was included as it taps the respondents’ involvement in governmental institutions. Respondents who participated to the youth programs will likely view the government as legitimate.Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 81 For legal cynicism. No help given) and were reverse-coded so that the more positive evaluations had higher values. ever forced someone to have sex with him or her. ever stolen things from someone (theft). Results showed that there were no problems due to multicollinearity. and ever had an encounter with the police. The Variance Inflation Factors (VIF) among the independent variables were also obtained (outputs not shown). Very little help. Analyses The data were analyzed by running the univariate. the bivariate correlations were generated (see Appendix). the youngest being 15 and the oldest being 30 years of age.” The five items were then aggregated and recoded such that respondents who committed at least one of the listed offenses were coded as 1. a “view on governmental support” was constructed from a question on “how big or small is the help given by the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK to the youth?” Sangguniang Kabataan is part of the local government that is managed by and for the youth. Support given by SK to the respondents can be construed as a form of governmental effectiveness and legitimacy.5%) of the respondents came from urban areas. To test for problems posed by multi- collinearity. Results Table 1 shows the results of the univariate analysis. These included whether respondents “ever used drugs. bivariate and multivariate characteristics and relationships of and among the variables. Another dimension of legal cynicism was constructed from an item that asked “Have you ever participated in any government program for the youth or not?” This was answerable by ‘Yes’ (coded as 1) or ‘No’ (coded as 0). The dichotomous nature of the legal cynicism variables and offending behaviors (coded as 0 and 1) necessitated the use of this procedure. two items were used to operationalize two dimensions of this concept. ever used force to get something from someone (robbery). Little help. this measure was dichotomized where “Very big help” and “Big help” were combined and given a value of ‘1’ and the rest of the options were given a value of ‘0’. the mean score is 12.57. 84%t were Catholics. and those who did not commit any offense were coded as 0. Eventually. The mean age of the respondents was 22 years of age. while the majority (69%) considered themselves as either “poor” or “on the line”. where the highest score is 15 and the lowest is 3.

140 0.172 0 1 Based on religious affliation 1200 0.131 0 1 Based on ethnicity 1141 0.489 0 1 Participation in governmental activity 1200 0.000 5.5% Rural 450 37.600 0.313 0 1 Robbery 1200 0.357 0 1 Based on disability 1200 0.182 0 1 Theft 1200 0.0% “On the line” 221 18.155 3 15 Experience of discrimination Based on gender 1200 0. 33% of the respondents reported that they had experienced at least one form of discrimination.297 0 1 Overall discrimination 1141 0.330 0. Another 15% reported that they were .179 0 1 Encounter with the police 1200 0.000 15 30 Gender 1200 Male 600 50.202 0 1 Overall offending 1200 0.0% Religion 1200 Catholic 1044 87.0% Socioeconomic Status 1200 Poor 591 50.150 0.200 0.110 0.3% Education 1200 At most elementary 173 14.353 0 1 Offending behavior Drug use 1200 0.031 0.150 0.4% of the respondents claimed that they had been discriminated against based on their gender and 14% claimed age discrimination.0% Others 156 13.0% Female 600 50. with the following breakdown: 11. In terms of discrimination.2% Locale 1200 Urban 750 62.065 0.114 0.82 Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 Table 1 Descriptive statistics Demographic N Freq (%) Mean SD Min Max Age 1200 22.090 0.4% Not Poor 388 32.030 0.570 2.470 0 1 Legal Cynicism Views on governmental support 1135 0.249 0 1 Based on sexual orientation 1200 0.4% At most some vocational 628 52.043 0.400 0 1 their person and property.3 Completed vocational to college 399 33.351 0 1 Based on educational background 1200 0.017 0.066 0.318 0 1 Based on age 1200 0.247 0 1 Forced sex 1200 0.5% Neighborhood levels of safety 1123 12.030 0.

neither experiential variable was related to the governmental participation variable. 3. age. Legal Cynicism and Offending Behaviors The Western literature suggested that legal cynicism could predict offending behaviors. this same educational status was not related to the other dimensions of legal cynicism. and though not significant. This could be because this particular survey made use of sealed envelopes where respondents must have felt that their responses were made more anonymous. However. gender. minority status. More so.1% forced someone to have sex with them. education and locale are related to legal cynicism. Those who had more education (completed at least vocational) were four times more likely to participate in government activities compared to those who finished at the most elementary educational level. This is an important finding considering that.3% had had an encounter with the police.3% of the variance in the view of governmental support variable was explained and 6. in this dataset. the direction of the coefficients for the neighborhood levels of safety was negative. this means that only 40% of the respondents had an elevated level of legal cynicism. in Western literature. Finally. Neither of the 3 This percentage of self-reports in offending behaviors of Filipino youths is a little bit higher compared to other surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations. the size of the coefficients (B) also showed that the predictors were weakly related to the dependent variables. that is. Sixty percent of the respondents indicated the view that the government. most of the demographic variables were not related to both dimensions of legal cynicism except for educational status (see Table 2). Those who felt satisfied with their neighborhood and the safety and security it offered felt that the government was supportive. However. 6. Both experiential variables were related to legal cynicism but only in one dimension. However. it was contradictory to the proposed direction. the whole model predicted only a small portion of the total variance in the two dimensions of legal cynicism.0%) and religious affiliation (9%). 3% admitted committing robbery. only 15% of the respondents reported having participated in any of the government programs. the different dimensions of legal cynicism usually converge. on the line and not poor and those living in urban and rural areas. Using the Nagelkerke Pseudo R-Square. The negative coefficient suggests that those who felt safe in their neighborhoods were more likely not to participate in governmental activities.7%). Conversely. However. However. . the data did not produce the predicted results (see Table 3). only 3. SES. as did the religious majority and minority. The two dimensions of legal cynicism reflected two different things. through the Sangguniang Kabataan. Overall. was either a very big help or a big help.Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 83 discriminated against due to their educational status.3 Factors Related to Legal Cynicism Based on Western literature. sexual orientation (3. and those who were discriminated against felt the government did not provide them with support.5% reported involvement in theft. 20% of the respondents self-reported that they had engaged in at least one form of offending behavior. Eleven percent of the respondents had admitted that they had used drugs. Much smaller percentages of respondents claimed being discriminated due to disability (1. those who considered themselves as poor. ethnicity (6.9% of the variance in the governmental participation variable was explained. Using the governmental participation as the dimension.6%). there were more respondents who were legally cynical. the view on governmental support. Young men and women expressed similar levels of legal cynicism. and 4. In terms of offending.

308 .165 Not discriminated (-1) versus discriminated (1) Chi square Omnibus test of Model Coefficients 24.128 2. Wald Exp(B) B S.033 **P<.971 Overall discrimination Contrasting -.014 .708 .100 .764 1.108 1. Youths living in urban areas and those who felt discriminated against had a significantly elevated risk of offending compared to those living in the rural areas and those who were not discriminated against.729 4.341 3.148 .E.-5) versus completed vocational or more (1) Education2 Contrasting At most .438 10.878 (1) versus Others (-1) SES1 Contrasting Poor (-1) . robbery.040 .297 .983 .030 11.298 . even if broken down to different components of offending (that is drug use.11*** ***P<. Finally.091 1.008 .021 .002 .05 dimensions of legal cynicism were related to offending behaviors.2% of the variance in the dependent variable.036 1.05 0.976 urban (1) Neighborhood levels of safety .383 1.236 versus Not Poor (1) Education1 Contrasting Less than -.088 .187 2.004 .01 Nagelkerke R Square 0.097 .024 .E.761 1.735 -.106*** -.4) more likely to self–report involvement in offending behaviors compared to females.099 .257 1.725 1.150 .153 .017 . Males were two and half times (Exp B or odds ratio=2.120 .84 Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 Table 2 Two dimensions Legal cynicism regressed on predictors View on governmental support Governmental participation Predictors B S.069 **P<.007 Gender Contrasting Male .093 2.996 -. The offending behavior was explained by four variables in the model.708 .861** .198 2.128 (1) versus Female (-1) Religion Contrasting Catholics -.01 42.486 .104 . both dimensions of legal cynicism were not significant predictors (data not shown).067 .130 .042 . these four variables explained 18.059 .069 4.029 . Wald Exp(B) Age -.961 .014 -.099 .682 1.007 . Traditional Western variables .114 .003 1.042 .212 .072 .158 .347 1.530 vocational (. forced sex and encounter with the police).059 1.201*** elementary (-1) versus completed vocational or more (1) Locale Contrasting Rural (-1) versus . Further analysis also showed that. Overall.008 versus On the line (1) SES2 Contrasting Poor (-1) -.041 .015 1.435 . theft. those who felt that their neighborhood was relatively satisfactory in terms of safety and security were less likely to self-report involvement in an offending behavior.636 .125 1.482 .075*** ***P<.101 .

6827 1.1287 0.2730*** (-1) versus discriminated (-1) Views on government support -0.3078 0.9429 Participation in governmental activity 0. religious minority status.0787 0.01 Nagelkerke R Square 0. perhaps the better measure would be dimensions of the legal beliefs (i.1296 0. However.0099 0.6241 1.0518 (Constant) -0.0127 0.9672 0. Using the more positivistic perspective.8943 1.9103 1.E Wald Sig. minority status. For example. First.1618 0.0819 SES1 Contrasting Poor (-1) versus On the line (1) 0.7056 0. Exp(B) Age 0.0477 0. Education status was related to one dimension (governmental participation).3738 0.8506 versus completed vocational or more (1) Education2 Contrasting At most elementary (-1) 0.4100 Chi square Omnibus test of Model Coefficients 123.3828 0.0196 0.0464 0.0995 77.2402 0..1477 0. gender.0588 0.8755 0.0099 Gender Contrasting Male (1) versus Female (-1) 0.1736 0.0198 SES2 Contrasting Poor (-1) versus Not Poor (1) 0.1147 0.5042 0.00013 1.e.8916 0.Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 85 Table 3 Offending behavior regressed on predictors (Logistic regression) Predictors B S.0505 0. socio-economic status and locale were not related to any of the dimensions of legal cynicism.0000 2.-5) -0.6968 0.1916 0.4461 0.0177 0.182 **P<.9267** Overall discrimination Contrasting Not discriminated 0. Discussion Using a recently articulated but now popular construct called legal cynicism. the results showed that legal cynicism was not related to offending behaviors.2423 0.5409 1.0992 0. Due diligence was exercised to replicate the measures of legal cynicism and other variables. the results indicated that age.3604*** Neighborhood levels of safety -0. even when the components of offending behaviors were disaggregated. only a small variance in the two measures of legal cynicism was explained by the models.7140 0. these divergent findings could be explained by the following arguments.0957 10. the measures of legal cynicism employed in this study might not have been accurate replications of the measures used in the West.315*** ***P<.2545 0. socioeconomic status and educational status were not important predictors of offending behaviors. instead of employing views on governmental support or participation in government activities. Overall. this paper empirically tested whether its prediction hold in a non-Western developing country setting.0869 7.0382 3.0761 0.4000*** Religion Contrasting Catholics (1) versus Others (-1) 0.2414 0.1518 0.0147 Education1 Contrasting Less than vocational (.0055 1.0202 0.8271 1.7348 0.05 like age.2314 0. Also.9056 versus completed vocational or more (1) Locale Contrasting Rural (-1) versus urban (1) 0.0146 0. and neighborhood levels of safety and experience of discrimination were related to the other dimension (views on governmental support).3497 0. asking .

Conclusion Employing a post-colonialist perspective provides a more meaningful explanation why legal cynicism. political. This is because. USA and Japan). Also. Gutierrez 1992. has limited utility in the Philippine setting. paternalism or cronyism (Anderson 1988. in some neighborhoods in the United States. When these two assumptions are not met. The protection of the law thus depends on one’s personalistic relationship with the dispenser of political power. Sidel 1999). Secondly. Given the national character of this dataset. McCoy 2009. Sidel 1999). social and economic factors. positivistic scholars would argue that the construct of legal cynicism was not fully tested. it was not meaningful to aggregate the respondents in the communities that they come from. a citizen who view is that the government is helpful or supportive (because of the personal favors he or she got from the sitting government official) and thus indicates low levels of legal cynicism (at least based on the Western measurement) may still willingly break a law . there are two key assumptions that make the concept of legal cynicism appropriate: one is that the society in which it is applied to generally thrives under a rule of law. three foreign invaders (Spain. Legal cynicism is a construct that is most robust in multilevel studies. Three and half centuries of colonialism. as a construct. As initially discussed. In the Philippines. to be followed or invoked when beneficial to one’s interest but to be disregarded or purposefully violated when they serves as an impediment to one’s interests. generally. this socio-political condition had invariably been called cacique democracy. As such. The state apparatus is continually captured by socio-economic elites. bossism. one and a half decades of despotic Martial Law and series of corrupt governments have made citizens develop a contemptuous regard for the laws. Hedman and Sidel 2000. whole communities may become legally cynical due to negative experiences with the police and legal institutions. legal cynicism is a strong predictor of offending behaviors when looking at the characteristics of individuals nested in particular neighborhoods. the construct of legal cynicism becomes irrelevant. In the Philippines. There were too few respondents nested in a particular barrio (the smallest cluster) to come up with aggregate information. For example. the laws and legal institutions are generally regarded with contempt. The second positivistic critic may be based on the research design. that is. in partitioning individual and community-level effects (Sampson and Bartusch 1998). the implementation of the law is haphazard and depends on the individual caprices of those who wield power. the society must have legal institutions which are mature and strong enough to punish the violators. the dimensions of legal cynicism used in this study employed only single item questions. Given the limitations of the dataset. which could have lessened the reliability and validity of the measures used. the courts and corrections (Abueva 1970. Citizens have come to recognize that laws are but formal pronouncements. due to a combination of historical. “Is it okay to break the law once in a while?” or “Is it okay to break the law as long as no one is hurt?” .Sampson and Bartusch 1998). Indeed the finding that. the police. In this context.86 Asian Criminology (2012) 7:75–89 respondents. respondents were less cynical in one dimension (government support) and more cynical in another dimension (governmental participation) (Table 1) indicated that the measures may be lacking in convergent validity. the citizens’ level of cynicism thus becomes immaterial. Rogers 2004. who then use the state bureaucracy to forward their narrow self-interests (Hutchcroft 1998. Sidel 1999). As such.

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