The Social Psychology of Procedural E. Allan Lind; Tom R. Tyler

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  • The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice. by E. Allan Lind; Tom R. TylerReview by: Henry A. WalkerAmerican Journal of Sociology, Vol. 95, No. 1 (Jul., 1989), pp. 250-252Published by: The University of Chicago PressStable URL: .Accessed: 28/10/2014 03:05

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  • American Journal of Sociology

    detect and ill equipped to investigate. Over the past few decades, many criminologists have revealed the property loss and human injury caused by elite crime and have complained about the class bias inherent in crime enforcement. Marx convincingly argues that only undercover tactics and covert surveillance can remedy this bias and offer some protection to a public that has become increasingly concerned with white-collar crime.

    In the final chapter, Marx presents an overview of the technologies of the new surveillance: computers and data bases, miniature video and audio recorders, satellite photography, polygraphics, and biotechnology. These technologies, used not only by the police but also by employers, intrude into private lives and have the potential to turn everyone into suspects and our culture into "a maximum-security society." In spite of these dangers, Marx favors the use of these technologies by the police as long as they are subject to control. He suggests warrant requirements, review boards, monetary compensation for innocent targets, and clearer guidelines for the entrapment defense. Marx also suggests that such tac- tics should be used only as a last resort. He does not, however, identify the specific circumstances under which they ought to be allowed and ought to be limited. He hints at, but falls short of saying, for example, that covert activities should be used primarily against crime by the elite- white-collar and political crimes that cannot be uncovered through other techniques. This is where the strongest case can be made since these are the criminals who might use the new technologies to commit and cover up their crimes. If undercover tactics are widely used against "street crimes," the class bias built into current enforcement patterns will remain.

    This book is oriented more toward raising questions than providing answers. It does a good job of outlining the issues and identifying the means-ends dilemmas inherent in the use of police covert activities and undercover surveillance techniques. In the end, Marx suggests that we may have to choose between anarchy and repression in accepting or rejecting them. Let us hope it will never come to that.

    The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice. By E. Allan Lind and Tom R. Tyler. New York: Plenum Press, 1988. Pp. vii+ 267. $32.50.

    Henry A. Walker University of Iowa

    The study of distributive justice emerged as one of the most fertile topics of scholarship in social psychology during the 1960s and 1970s. The publication of Thibaut and Walker's Procedural Justice (Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1975) and the "discovery" that individuals evaluated the justice of procedures in addition to the justice of outcomes suggested an even more fruitful future. It seemed clear that (as Thibaut and Walker put it) whatever procedural justice was, it was unlikely that distributive justice would be achieved or perceived without it.


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  • Book Reviews

    The purpose of E. Allan Lind and Tom R. Tyler's Social Psychology of Procedural Justice is to "present a picture of the advances in the study of procedural justice" (p. 203) since the appearance of Thibaut and Walker's book. The authors fulfill that promise by providing a systematic survey of the literature on procedural justice. The book should be of interest to new students of the phenomenon and to those who need a review of the most recent research on the subject.

    Lind and Tyler provide a useful discussion of the early foundations of procedural justice research, including the initial findings of Thibaut and Walker (chap. 2). The core of the book (chaps. 4-8) includes system- atic summaries of research that confirms and supplements Thibaut and Walker's early work on procedural justice in the law and on legal institu- tions (chaps. 4, 5). In subsequent chapters, these findings are extended to politics and government (chap. 7) and to organizations in the public and private sectors (chap. 8), thereby establishing the generality of procedural justice phenomena.

    The authors draw a number of conclusions from their review in chapter 9. Some of the conclusions are empirical generalizations; for example, "Procedures are viewed as fairer when they vest process control or voice in those affected by a decision" (p. 208). However, a significant number of them are not and could simply be called observations; for example, "Pro- cedural justice effects are robust across methodologies" (p. 206). In addi- tion, the authors propose several hypotheses that presumably should be investigated empirically.

    The authors state that they have not attempted to construct a "unified theory of procedural justice" (p. 221). Instead, in chapter 10 they describe two models of procedural justice phenomena (the self-interest and group- motive models), generate predictions from the two models, and compare the predictions with existing findings. Lind and Tyler conclude that neither model fits all the data well and suggest how the two models may be reconciled.

    Critical readers may be less than satisfied with this offering. First, many of the tables fail to report levels of statistical significance or N's, and the reader is left with the authors' interpretations of the findings. Second, an examination of questionnaire items utilized in the assessment of fairness (app., pp. 243-47) indicates that many of those items employ terms that might be treated more correctly as correlates than as indicators of fairness or justice. The issue of appropriate indicators points to an unresolved issue in procedural justice research. There is no generally agreed on definition of a just procedure. The absence of such a criterion suggests important methodological questions about the respondents' ref- erents for evaluations of procedural justice and the extent to which findings are comparable across investigations. This issue, not discussed by the authors, is associated with a general lack of critical analysis in the book.

    Lind and Tyler should not be singled out for failing to formulate a criterion of procedural justice or for failing to investigate the various


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  • American Journal of Sociology

    alternatives. However, a more critical stance would have brought such issues to the reader's attention, enhanced the usefulness of the authors' review, and might possibly have paved the way for further advances in the study of procedural justice.

    Juvenile Correctional Reform: Two Decades of Policy and Procedural Change. By Edmund F. McGarrell. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988. Pp. xvii+ 219. $34.50 (cloth); $10.95 (paper).

    Mark D. Jacobs George Mason University

    The cycles of juvenile correctional reform are of broad sociological inter- est because (to borrow Albert Hirschman's phrase) they mark the "shift- ing involvements" of American history, the general redistributions of public and private responsibilities. Only since the 1960s has the federal government acknowledged any role for itself in juvenile corrections, but most responsibility for juvenile correction remains with the states. In recent decades, California, Massachusetts, and Washington have taken perhaps the most influential initiatives. The persistence of significant variations in correctional policy among the states creates a need for such studies as the case study of New York in Juvenile Correctional Reform, to facilitate interstate comparisons.

    Edmund F. McGarrell attempts to replicate the Massachusetts case study made by Alden Miller, Lloyd Ohlin, and Robert Coates (A Theory of Social Reform [Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1977]). Drawing primar- ily on semistructured interviews with "key participants" in correctional policy formation (identified through a snowball sampling procedure), as well as on archival data, McGarrell assesses the validity for the New York experience of the five empirical principles identified by Miller and colleagues as explaining correctional policy reform. He traces the inter- play among liberal and conservative interest coalitions and formal deci- sion-making groups to explain lega