Why National and International Legitimacy Beliefs Are Linked: Social Trust as an Antecedent Factor

Review of International Organizations, 2018

27 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2019

See all articles by Lisa Maria Dellmuth

Lisa Maria Dellmuth

Stockholm University

Jonas Tallberg

Stockholm University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 15, 2018

Abstract

Recent public opinion research has established an empirical regularity of unusual stability and strength: citizen beliefs in the legitimacy of national and international institutions are highly linked. The dominant interpretation of this link holds that citizens draw on their perceptions of national institutions as a heuristic when forming opinions about international institutions. This article proposes an alternative mechanism, privileging social trust as an antecedent factor contributing to both national and international legitimacy beliefs. Using original survey data on citizen attitudes toward four international institutions in three countries, the article provides evidence for social trust as an antecedent factor, while granting no support for the dominant interpretation. The article suggests three broader implications: social trust has more far-reaching consequences for international cooperation than previously understood; political efforts to affect the legitimacy of international institutions are constrained by individual predispositions; and a comparative approach is central to the study of public attitudes toward international institutions.

Keywords: Legitimacy; Social Trust; International Institution; Confidence; Political Awareness

Suggested Citation

Dellmuth, Lisa Maria and Tallberg, Jonas, Why National and International Legitimacy Beliefs Are Linked: Social Trust as an Antecedent Factor (December 15, 2018). Review of International Organizations, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3314653 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3314653

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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