The Culture of Legality: Context and Trends in Latin America
Young democracies face many challenges; they must adopt and develop the values and institutions of liberal democracy and those of the rule of law, while strengthening civil society. The culture of legality can be seen as the means whereby legitimacy is granted to existing institutions, in order to lend them validity. Unless citizens use the law to regulate their behavior or institutions in the legal system to resolve their conflicts and protect and promote their interests, reforms are of little use in everyday life. This paper addresses some of the characteristic features of the way Latin Americans relate to the law and institutions in the legal system. While recognizing the heterogeneity within the region, some distinctive features that appear in the existing comparable information bases are described: the LB and the WVS since 2000. The results suggest that political reforms and the functioning of legal institutions have not had a significant impact on the endemic mistrust pervading the citizens of this region. Although democratic development is gradual, there have been no significant changes regarding how Latin Americans relate to the law, at least in attitudinal terms.
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