Holding Police Abuse to Account: The Challenge of Institutional Legitimacy, a Chilean Case Study

  • Michelle D. Bonner


In this chapter, Bonner argues that a key function of accountability, as it pertains to police abuse in democracy, is to reinforce the institution’s legitimacy. The goal of legitimacy may or may not include changes in police or political practices that might better prevent repetition. This finding highlights the relative importance of some goals of accountability over others and their implications for democracy. The chapter is based on an analysis of the political narratives of accountability used in the Chilean case of the fatal police shooting of Manuel Gutiérrez. It reveals how dominant political narratives narrow the definition of accountability, showcase its application, and thus reinforce police legitimacy while public attention is most focused on the case. However, when public attention decreases, accountability is reduced.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle D. Bonner
    • 1
  1. 1.University of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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