After its successful transition to democracy, Mexico has experienced an epidemic of organized societal violence known as the drug war that, to date, has caused well over 100,000 casualties. Most of this violence has been consigned to oblivion, without proper investigation or prosecution. Victims have been organizing and protesting, yet ordinary citizens have remained quiet, except for two short lived waves of nationwide protest. As I hypothesize, a primary reason for their acquiescence is cognitive. The framing of organized violence as a self-contained war among criminals (“bounded violence”) erodes the attitudinal foundation of citizen solidarity and sympathy with the victims of injustice. I explore the cognitive foundations of citizen attitudes towards victims on the basis of original data from the Mexican 2013 National Survey on Organized Violence. Logistic regression analysis confirms the expected framing effect. Even when controlling for alternative explanations, such as personal proximity to violence and social proximity to its victims, the notion of bounded violence within a criminal community induces citizens to view its victims with indifference.


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pp. 1038-1069
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