Elite Communication and Popular Legitimacy in Global Governance

53 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2016

See all articles by Lisa Maria Dellmuth

Lisa Maria Dellmuth

Stockholm University

Jonas Tallberg

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

While popular legitimacy is central to international cooperation, existing research offers few insights into the process by which citizens come to perceive of international organizations (IOs) as legitimate or not. This paper offers the first systematic and comparative analysis of the role of elite communication in shaping the popular legitimacy of IOs. We build on framing theory to develop an argument about why citizens should be susceptible to elite communication about IOs, and when those effects should be particularly strong. We empirically evaluate the impact of elite communication through a survey experiment conducted among almost 10,000 residents of three countries in relation to five IOs. Four principal conclusions stand out. First, elite communication affects citizens’ perceptions of IO legitimacy, irrespective of whether it invokes the procedures or the performances of IOs as grounds for criticism or endorsement. Second, communication by relatively more credible elites has stronger effects on the popular legitimacy of IOs. Third, negative messages are more effective than positive messages in shaping citizens’ legitimacy perceptions. Fourth, elite communication is more effective when it targets IOs that citizens are relatively less familiar with.

Suggested Citation

Dellmuth, Lisa Maria and Tallberg, Jonas, Elite Communication and Popular Legitimacy in Global Governance (February 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757650 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2757650

Lisa Maria Dellmuth

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.lisadellmuth.se

Jonas Tallberg (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91
Sweden

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