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 7: Approaching Defiance through Social Modelling

Valerie Braithwaite


Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action. Albert Bandura 1977: 22 Evidence is accumulating to support the initial proposition that resistant and dismissive defiance represent different styles of motivational posturing. But the evidence provides greater insight into the psychological processes that lead to resistance than to dismissiveness. It seems that a different approach is needed theoretically if we are to glimpse the heart of dismissiveness. In the preceding two chapters, defiant posturing has been approached through two theoretical lenses, one focusing on threat to the taxpayer, the other focusing on the integrity offered by the tax authority to quieten taxpayer misgivings about possible injustice and unreasonableness. As different as the theoretical lenses are, they share an important element. Both assume that the tax authority matters to people and that complaints and unease over taxation lend themselves to meaningful dialogue – threat and injustice can be talked through, preferably to a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. The argument that has been constructed to date is that, through cognitive reframing and institutional reform, individuals are in a position voluntarily and thoughtfully to desist from defiant posturing. Desisting from defiance is, in effect, a decision made...

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