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The dynamics of legitimation - Why the study of political legitimacy needs more realism

By Daniel Gaus

Abstract

The paper suggests a practice turn in the analysis of political legitimacy. Current social science research on political legitimacy suffers twofold. First, it shows an undue (silent) impact of an ethics-first perspective. Second, empirical approaches to political legitimacy mostly focus on societal constellations of citizens’ beliefs. The dynamic character of political legitimacy as a concept referring to an ongoing societal practice of legitimation is missed. Understanding legitimacy in terms of legitimation practice suggests a broadened research agenda that a) reserves a greater role to hermeneutical approaches and that b) acknowledges the systematic relation of political theory, the sociology of knowledge and the history of ideas in that matter.democracy; legitimacy; methodological issues; political science; normative political theory

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