Mapping Legitimation: How Do States Manage Situations of Stress and Change?
31 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2011 Last revised: 23 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 10, 2011
Many authors use legitimacy as an analytical concept but find it difficult to operationalize - especially when looking at situations of crisis, stress and change. More often than not, the ‘amount’ of legitimacy a given political regime enjoys at a given moment in time does not by itself constitute a valid indicator of its ability to manage a situation of stress and to secure its survival. This paper proposes an alternative approach: It explores the strategic procurement of legitimacy, called legitimation. Political regimes are characterized by a specific combination of legitimation modalities (a legitimation profile), which shapes the capacity of states to respond to situations of stress and change both in positive terms (providing key resources, stabilizing expectations and facilitating change) and in negative terms (consuming resources and precluding reforms).
Keywords: legitimacy, legitimation, state, political regime, political change
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