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 4: Measuring Motivational Postures and Defiance

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


[M]any forms of behavior are determined by belief systems consisting of functionally interrelated self-conceptions, . . . values, attitudes, cognitions about behavior, and cognitions about other people’s cognitions and behavior. Milton Rokeach 1973: 338 Motivational postures represent summary statements of how individuals think about their engagement with regulatory authorities. They are also discursive tools. They are relatively coherent, having been rehearsed, shared and fine-tuned through engagement and narration with others in the regulatory culture. In this chapter, motivational postures towards the tax system and tax authority are measured, tracked and linked to nontax-related cultural markers, specifically social demographic characteristics, values and views on the state of the democracy. One of the important findings of this chapter is that views about taxation are connected with views about how we relate to each other and our democracy, confirming both classic and recent arguments about the cultural dimension of taxation practices (Schmölders 1970; Mumford 2002). The empirical analyses of this chapter also address two central questions that lie at the heart of the motivational postures thesis: (a) do the postures adequately represent social distance from the tax authority as presumed? and (b) are these postures malleable? MEASURING MOTIVATIONAL POSTURES Before describing the procedures used to measure motivational postures, a note of explanation is required as to why the departure from scientific parsimony – why the ‘invention’ of a new concept when so many related concepts (e.g. social identity, interests, social distance, coping strategies and justice perceptions) have a firm foothold in the social science literature....

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