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 5: Approaching Defiance through Threat and Coping

Valerie Braithwaite


Stress is best regarded as a complex rubric . . . reflected in the person’s appraisal of a relationship with the environment . . . relevant to well-being and taxing or exceeding his or her resources . . . [We ask] what it is about the person, in interaction with a given environmental situation, that generates appraisals of harm/ loss, threat, or challenge . . . Richard Lazarus et al. 1985: 776 This chapter begins the journey of understanding the psychological drivers of resistance and dismissiveness, and more particularly, the differences between the two. The starting point in this journey is threat of taxation. Social distancing is purported to be a reaction to threat. Our different ways of coping with threat may explain why we adopt a social distancing response of dismissive defiance as opposed to resistant defiance. This chapter sets out a conceptual model for understanding how people cope with the threat of taxation and empirically tests the role of coping styles in shaping the defiance supra-postures of dismissiveness and resistance. To sum up the argument, the social distance that individuals place between themselves and an authority can be observed in their motivational postures. These social distancing responses can be collapsed into two dimensions: liking and deference. When we distance ourselves from an authority because we don’t approve of the authority’s use of its power, we display defiance through the supra-posture of resistance. When we distance ourselves because we will not defer to the authority, irrespective of how it uses its power, we display defiance through the supra-posture of dismissiveness. In...

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