Austin L. Wright, Stephen Stapleton, Andres Uribe

Televising Justice During War

Television is an overlooked tool of state building. We estimate the impact of televising criminal proceedings on public use of government courts to resolve disputes. We draw on survey data from Afghanistan, where the government used television as a mechanism for enhancing the legitimacy of formal legal institutions during an ongoing conflict. We find consistent evidence of court ‘uptake’ among survey respondents who trust television following the nation’s first televised criminal trial. We find no evidence that public confidence in other government functions (e.g. economy, development, corruption) improved during this period . Our findings suggest that television may provide a means of building state legitimacy during war.

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The University of Chicago