n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Mass and elite attitudes towards the criminal justice system in South Africa : how congruent?

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



Political scientists struggle to understand the attitudinal link between the public and the elite on major policy issues. Using survey data of the World Values Study of 2001 (N=3000) as well as that of an opinion-leader study of 2000 (N=393), this article examines the extent to which the public share the attitudes of the elite towards the functioning of the South African criminal justice system. The results indicate that there is not much congruency between elite and public attitudes. There is also a perception of institutional incapacity regarding the criminal justice system among elites as well as subsections of the public. Furthermore, the results provide us with evidence that can serve as an estimate of the degree to which the public can be expected to understand the policy positions of the elite.

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