Importance of Legitimacy in Political Science

The Importance of Legitimacy in Political Science

Importance of Legitimacy in Political Science: Legitimacy is one of the most important concepts used by political scientists to analyze current events. There is something that all state actors have to worry about when it comes to political legitimacy. However, so many people fail to understand the significance of this issue in politics. This article explains how legitimacy works, how scholars measure its effects in politics, and how you can use it personally.

Legitimacy is Important in Political Science

 Importance of Legitimacy in Political Science
Importance of Legitimacy in Political Science

Although justification has been around for a long time, it has gained new significance in the modern world and in the context of the present. With the development of civilization, culture, and politics, the role of repressive power relations in human behavior has declined, while repressive elements of power such as influence, power, and leadership have increased in significance.

There is no difference between elements of the repressive and repressive categories of power, so long as they are not found to be justified or applied to their justification, that is when they are combined with legitimate or justification. Their power and influence are greatly increased, thereby increasing their limitations in terms of influencing human behavior.

The position of power is attained only after a person gains a position of justification and begins to wear the clothes of others. Only then does a person acquire a position of authority. Essentially, influencers have the ability to change behavior. In Dell’s view, justification is the key to the establishment of politicians. Weaver considered it so important to analyze only governments and authorities that are justified that he considered it his main subject.

A special importance is given to justification in a democracy, where justification is of the utmost importance to the success of all political systems. It becomes very difficult for the democratic system to obtain public obedience based on fear and terror in a democracy, therefore it requires the most justification.

Force, repression, etc., should be used in very limited quantities, because if used excessively, it will result in the loss of justification for the power, which is fatal for the entire political system. The state of justification should be achieved by the authority to the maximum extent possible in order to establish good relations between the individual and the authority.

As a result, political systems are constantly seeking to justify their existence. As noted earlier, M. Lipsett contends that stability of a democracy depends not only on its economic development, but also on the legitimacy and capacity of its political system.

The Rationale for Developing the Concept

According to the Anglo-Saxon language, the word ‘legitimatas’ or ‘Lawful’ means ‘statutory’ in Latin. It was known in medieval times as ‘Legitimitas’ or ‘Legitimitas’, which meant ‘legitimate’ in Latin. There is a long history of justification as an idea or concept.

A sense of justice was planted by Plato within the seeds of justification. As he sees it, every government must be founded upon a sound foundation of moral values and long-standing beliefs, as well as the acceptance of the majority of the people. In Aristotle’s view, this concept could be referred to as the rule of law.

It is through Cicero’s use of the word ‘legitimum’ that he is referring to the powers or judges that are created by law. Eventually, it was adopted as a result of its ability to adapt to ancient traditions, customary procedures, constitutions, and elements of order. It was mentioned during the medieval period when describing the differences between a tyrannical or abducted ruler and a just religious ruler.

Taking Aristotle’s arguments into account, Marcilio of Pedua presented an interpretation based on constitutional principles rather than theological principles. This idea was strongly supported by Locke through the concept of consent and agreement.

In the modern era, Max Weber first proposed the concept as a universal idea. Justification is based on faith and attains the condition of obedience to the political system, in his opinion. Additionally, Max Weber has provided a detailed explanation of the grounds for justification. Three grounds are provided by him for justifying his position: traditional, intellectual-legal, and charismatic.

The problem of democratic justification has been addressed by another thinker, Carl Schmitt. It has been suggested by Gugleilmo Ferro that there are two grounds for democratic justification: the majority and the anti-minority parties. The author does not believe that consensus is an essential component of justification. As part of justification under a democratic political system, the presence of a limited amount of opposition is also considered justifiable.

A brief explanation of the justification is given below

It is the belief that authority and the way it is exercised are based on generally accepted rules and procedures held by the common man in a political system which is known as justification. Based on Sternberger’s view, it constitutes the foundation of government power. In other words, the government is aware that it has the right to rule, but the ruled are also aware of that right.

The following are some important definitions of justification.

Lipsett defines reasonableness as the ability and capacity of an organization to generate and maintain trust. Currently, the political institutions in place are the most appropriate for the society.,

Jean Blondel, a famous modern thinker, has defined justification as the degree to which people accept the organization they belong to, without questioning, and naturally – the acceptance area. An organization’s justification increases with its size.

In the opinion of Kuhn Alfred, “justification involves the acceptance of an agreement between the rulers and the ruled.”. It is an agreement under which people agree to obey the orders of the government and pay taxes in exchange for a place to live and an opportunity to avoid jail.

According to the definitions presented above, justification refers to the consent or acceptance given by the people in relation to the political system. Without the approval of the people, no political system or institution can be considered legitimate.

As a result, such a system cannot exist for the majority of the time. Political systems and institutions cannot be legitimized by the acceptance of the people obtained by the exercise of power or by the threat of the exercise of power.

As a result of this acceptance, the people should be able to demonstrate that their political system is more appropriate and efficient than other systems and that it is in accordance with their mental values, as well as recognizing that their legitimate needs are legitimate through that political system. Complete in all respects.

We cannot justify or legitimize a political system or other institution if people support it because of some fear or desire. Quite simply, the basis for justification is not the voluntary acceptance of people based on their ‘beliefs and values’, but their voluntary acceptance based on their ‘beliefs’ and ‘values’.

Legitimacy is defined as the presence of the following characteristics:

It is not a physical concept whose determinant or constructive element can be determined; rather, it is a concept, a condition of political life, one which has some of its own characteristics.

Justification characteristics may not have the same level and impact in all countries; instead, they depend on the level of mentality, political values-beliefs, and habits of the population of the country concerned and their degree of political consciousness. Following are some of the main and general characteristics of justification.

Justification of a political system depends on the degree to which the people believe it to be valid. A blood revolution or other illegal means was used by some individuals to take power and advance their narrow interests.

There is no way to gain the natural approval of the people. The new government may, however, become acceptable to some people after some time. The legitimacy of a political system is determined by the extent to which such trust is created among the people.

The concept of propriety encompasses a political system’s capability of generating and maintaining a widespread belief among its constituents that it and the institutions that it establishes are best suited to meet their needs.

Propriety is associated with the concept of effectiveness – Prof. Lipsett maintains that the stability and legitimacy of a political system are dependent upon its effectiveness. Legitimacy in a system can only be achieved through some degree of effectiveness. In order to attain the status of legitimacy, it is imperative that the political system does more than just say things. It must maintain effective control over the lives of its citizens. As per Kautilya, “Protecting the gentleman’s welfare and punishing the wicked” are critical functions of the state, and the political system gets legitimacy only when these activities are successfully carried out.

  • A system’s propriety depends on the values of its people — natural or voluntary consent by the majority. In other words, a system can only be legitimized if it is based on the values and beliefs of its people. Moreover, if the roots of democracy are deeply rooted in a country, it is very difficult for an undemocratic and non-constitutional government to be recognized as legitimate.
  • Power acquires legitimacy only when it is able to exercise power over the masses — there is a political proverb that states, “Legitimate Power is Authority.”, meaning that power arises when it is able to exercise power over the masses. If any individual or organization possesses power and is compelled to obey its commands under pressure or fear, then it is only empowered and not possessed. A power cannot be deemed to be powerful if it does not meet the rational criteria of the people. Power can only be converted into power if it is legitimate.
  • The legitimacy of a system is not determined by a few individuals’ consent, but by the wide acceptance of the general public. This widespread acceptance should not be the result of external pressure or influence, but should be the result of the rationality and views of the people concerned. Accordingly, legitimacy does not depend on a select group of individuals or on the elite alone, but rather on an increased level of social acceptance.

Basically, legitimacy refers to the ability of politicians to persuade the public that their political system is beneficial. As a general rule, legitimacy is based on wide social acceptance, and legitimacy is the quality that converts power into authority.

System legitimacy depends on its conformity with the values and beliefs of the people. In this regard, Prof. Lipsett writes that “groups assess the legality of a political system according to whether its values are in harmony with their own.

Different types of justifications and their classifications

Sternberger, Max Weber, and Robert Dell, some of the contemporary authors of political science, have proposed types and classifications of justification. Two types of justification have been provided by Sternberger.

(1) Divine Justification – In ancient Egypt, godlike emperors, a friend of the son of God in Christendom, inspirations of Moses, etc.

(2) Civil justification – It is evident when governance takes the form of agreements for cooperation between various autonomous units for the common interest. Among them are Aristotle’s police system, medieval economic unions, and modern systems, etc. The criterion of elections is continuously tightened in governance systems that fall under this category.

There are three types of justification offered by Max Weber The following are listed:

Justifications that are conventional, Justification for intellectual property rights, Justification for the charismatic appeal.

Robert Dell has argued that rationality represents a broad basis for classifying governments. Governments with a high level of justification are grouped as ‘justified systems’, while governments with weak justifications are categorized as ‘tyrannical systems’ in traditional terms.

As a matter of fact, justification is difficult to measure. There are some empirical indicators that Raj scientists have used in this regard, which are based on reliability levels. As an example, the detection of justification

  • the degree of repression imposed on policies in that system
  • The number of attempts to overthrow the government and the capabilities of those attempts
  • Political influence of the government’s leader
  • These incidents may include civil war, rebellion, civil disobedience, etc.

There is a crisis of legitimacy

As the term ‘crisis of justification’ suggests, in practice a crisis situation often arises in regards to a system’s legitimacy or justification. In view of the constant changes in the political, social, economic, and cultural conditions, this is to be expected.

When the political system adapts itself to these changes, its legitimacy remains intact; however, if the system is unable to adapt itself to the changes, then its legitimacy is diminished. Power holders’ motives also tend to change over time.

The legitimacy of the political system is certainly compromised when the ruling class abandons the path of serving the wider public interest for the sake of pursuing narrow interests. Here are a few of the major threats to the legitimacy of the political system:

As time passes, new ideas, new concepts, and new structures are developed, and there are many types of new states that are formed. This new set of circumstances has created the need for a change in the political system due to the changing circumstances.

The legitimacy of the political system will remain intact if it is able to adapt to these changes. Politicians whose political systems fail to recognize the demands of the times threaten their legitimacy. At first, there was a monarchical system, but later there were hints of democracy. In those countries that were able to adapt to democratic elements, their political systems retained their legitimacy.

In contrast, those that were unable to do so created a revolution-like situation. There are examples of the political system in England that cannot be adapted to the circumstances, as well as the political systems in France and Russia that are unable to be adapted to the circumstances.

There is also a crisis of legitimacy when new conditions threaten the existence of major traditional institutions or groups. Whenever such a situation arises, these institutions and groups, with all of their might and potential, challenge both the new conditions as well as the political systems that accept these new conditions. Whenever this happens, if the traditional element is sufficiently strong, all the political factors will be taken into consideration

The legitimacy of the system is in question. As the former Shah of Iran was working towards modernizing Iran, a crisis arose for the traditional elements – Mullah-Maulvis, and the then political system could not stand against the organized power of these traditional elements. As a result, a successful political system aims to strike a balance between tradition and modernity.

In our society, new types of groups are emerging at an increasing rate. (3) Problems arising from the entry of new groups into politics. Among the desires and aspirations of these groups is to participate effectively in the political system of the country. In the event that these classes are able to do this and the old class associated with the political system does not create any major obstacles, then the entry of these classes will enhance the legitimacy of the political system.

However, in the event that the old class causes major obstacles, the legitimacy of the political system may suffer. A new class of people, such as youth and trade unions, should be incorporated into the political system in a proper manner.

Delicate Lipsett points out that the political system in general, whether legitimately influential or not, may threaten the position of dominant traditional groups or emerging groups at any time, in reference to the second and third crises to legitimacy. As a result, doubts about the legitimacy of the system arise when one is denied entry into politics at any time.

There are four elements of high expectations for the system. Aspirations Whenever a new political system or institution is created due to changing circumstances, the people will often begin to have a lot of expectations for it.

If the political system is unable to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people, there may be a crisis of legitimacy. There are many Asian African countries that have gained independence that have experienced this situation.

Apart from all this, the greatest crisis for the legitimacy of a political system arises when politicians lose their effectiveness or when their effectiveness is seriously reduced. If a political system is incapable of protecting the interests of its citizens and suppressing those who are wicked, then its claim of legitimacy will remain merely theoretical.

Is it possible to achieve and maintain validity? A method for securing and maintaining legitimacy

Legitimacy cannot be achieved by any definite and simple formula; however, certain measures, if taken, can maintain a political system’s legitimacy. These measures are summarized below:

In order for any political system to maintain legitimacy, it must successfully adapt to the changing social, economic and political conditions. In the absence of changes in a political system in accordance with changing circumstances,

its legitimacy will be at risk. N. Samber states that “the best way to avoid political tension is to make preliminary changes in the institutionalhile maintaining the traditional legitimacy of political institutions.”

The preservation of traditions

Every country has established customs that have become an integral part of the lives of its citizens. As a result, institutions and officials associated with the political system should refrain from interfering with the sanctity of established traditions. Instead, they should establish their positions in accordance with these traditions.

According to the words of Green, “A political system that is based on traditions that are instilled in the minds of the people is not only mostly stable, but also indirectly provides many people to the people without rewards and punishments.” Behavior is controlled.

Protection of the legal system

When a person or group of people assumes political power based on the law, the law must be protected not only from outside influences but also from within influences, that is, from its soul. The laws and regulations must also be in accordance with the values and beliefs of the people in order to maintain the legitimacy of the system. It is impossible for the legitimacy of a political system to be completely secure for long if its legislation and legal structures do not meet the standards of the people.

As a result of their personal miraculous qualities, leaders play an extremely important role in maintaining the legitimacy of the system. There will be a deep sense of hypnotization among the common people towards the political system if the individual or group leading it possesses miraculous personal qualities.

The common people will obey every order of the political system as if it were their religion, and the legitimacy of the political system will be greatly enhanced. Contrary to popular belief, the legitimacy of the system is undermined by the circumstances. The supreme leadership should continuously strive to acquire miraculous qualities, as emphasized by Kautilya to modern thinkers Sartre and Markus.

In the modern era, gaining legitimacy for a system is primarily determined by its efficiency

Commercial activities It is the government’s responsibility to protect and enhance the lives, property, and interests of its citizens. The legitimacy of a political system will increase greatly when the general public realizes that it is capable of protecting and enhancing its citizens’ interests and wishes to do so.

A democratic framework must maintain the separation of political institutions from armed forces The power of the people or the representative power of the people needs to have supremacy in order to maintain a democratic structure, whereas the military should continue to be under civilian control.

In order to maintain the legitimacy of the system under democratic structures, it must be followed. A practical fact is that if the armed forces are not kept from the political institutions, the legitimacy of the political system is at risk and military rule is possible.

In light of the above explanation, it is clear that the legitimacy and stability of a political system depends on its ability to change in response to changing circumstances. In addition to this, the legitimacy of the political system can also be achieved through the legal system and the miraculous qualities of the leadership class, although the means of ‘effectiveness’ have become the most effective means of achieving and maintaining legitimacy in the modern era. As soon as the system has been implemented, it can be expected to maintain its legitimacy.

Legitimacy in Political Science Frequently Asked Questions

What is legitimacy in political power?

In political science, legitimacy is defined as the right and acceptance of an authority, typically a law or a regime, by a group of people. Generally, when a government is referred to as being authoritative, it refers to the position it occupies within the government, whereas, when it comes to legitimizing a government, it refers to the system of government under which it operates.

What is legitimacy and examples?

The term refers to the legality or authenticity of something, or it can refer to the status of a child who is born to parents who are married. It can also refer to a child born to married parents. When you question something’s legitimacy, this is like asking if it is legal or permissible for something to happen or whether it is permissible for it to happen at all.

What is legitimacy and its sources?

The belief that all citizens should have the right to be bound by the rules and regulations that are made by officials and leaders of government is based on this belief. There is no doubt that a ruler is able to maintain power with the least amount of political resources if he has the legitimacy. Democracies are founded on the principles of freedom, equality, and justice.

What is importance of legitimacy?

In order for development to take place, a government must be legitimate in order to achieve its goals. For leaders to be deemed legitimate, they must have the right to govern, create policies, and implement them. It is a moral right that leaders must possess in order for them to be regarded as legitimate.


A fundamental component of comparative politics is the study of political legitimacy. This concept is an integral part of many theories that are focused on concepts such as authoritarianism and democracy, conditions that can lead to dictatorships and civil wars, and many others that try to understand the relationship between rulers and their constituents.

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