Defiance in Taxation and Governance
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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.
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Chapter 3: The Expression and Management of Motivational Postures

Valerie Braithwaite


The desire to stand well with one’s fellows, the so-called human instinct of association, easily outweighs the merely individual interest and the logical reasoning upon which so many spurious principles of management are based. Elton Mayo 1949: 39 Motivational postures were introduced in the previous chapter as markers of a community’s defiance against a regulatory regime. Both the acceptability and effectiveness of a regulatory system are expected to improve when authorities read and engage with motivational postures through responsive regulatory practice. Responsive regulatory practice, which includes efforts to make sure that the regulatory system is aligned with the democratic will, is reflected in public perceptions of the institution’s integrity. The value of motivational postures, however, extends beyond informing authorities about quality of governance. These postures serve an important psychological function, helping individuals save face as authorities curtail individual choice and freedom. This chapter sets out the psychological infrastructure for motivational postures with a view to demonstrating that postures are part of the individual’s determination to survive and grow in capacity and character. Defiance makes its presence felt when such determination goes off track due to institutional pressures to conform. Defiance is the micro response of individuals to macro-social conditions that are harmful and destructive of the qualities that are important to individuals’ self-definition and self-worth. Oliver (1991) has provided a parallel analysis of how organizations fend off pressure to conform to outside institutional pressures. In circumstances where organizations don’t acquiesce, they may (a) compromise through placating, juggling demands or bargaining;...

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