Defiance in Taxation and Governance

Defiance in Taxation and Governance

Resisting and Dismissing Authority in a Democracy

Valerie Braithwaite

This innovative book presents a theory of tax defiance, integrating five years of research on people’s hopes, fears and expectations of the tax system and the authority that administers it.

Chapter 2: Defiance and Responsive Regulatory Relationships

Valerie Braithwaite

Subjects: economics and finance, public finance, politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


[T]here is a specific Serbian word for the peculiar national characteristic that continues to frustrate NATO. The word is ‘inat’ . . . which translates very roughly as defiant bloody-mindedness, though the English words are not quite adequate to express what my friend told me are overtones of both nobility and self destructiveness. Julian Manyon, reporting from war-torn Belgrade, The Spectator, 29 May 1999 Defiance is a signal that individuals express attitudinally or behaviourally towards an authority (and, shared with others) that communicates unwillingness to follow the authority’s prescribed path without question or protest. Any of us can experience, indeed practise, defiance if the circumstances are right. Delineating the circumstances and understanding how best to respond to defiance is one of the objectives of this book. Before these bigger issues are addressed, more detail is needed around the defiance concept sketched in Chapter 1. The first section of this chapter differentiates current usage of defiance from other usages and from similar concepts. In the second section, a social conception of defiance within an institutional and regulatory framework is presented. Defiance is reflected in the way an individual controls the social distance between self and authority, developing and sharing narratives to accompany movements of approach, withdrawal, avoidance and challenge. The concept that represents the social distance narratives is motivational postures. Learning from defiance is a responsibility of authorities in democratic societies. In order for a regulatory community to learn from defiance, there must be an investment in relationship building in which a free...

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