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Legitimation in Non-Democracies: Concepts, Theories and Empirical Evidence across Regime Subtypes

Comparative Politics
Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Alexander Dukalskis
University College Dublin
Workshop Co-Director
Johannes Gerschewski
WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Legitimation has been a major concept for the comparative study of democracies, both in terms of (normative) democratic theory and empirical analyses. However its role for non-democracies, including autocracies and so-called 'hybrid regimes' that combine institutional elements of democracy with governing patterns of autocracy, remains controversial. How can the legitimation efforts of non-democracies be compared across differing contexts in a theoretically informed manner? How do hybrid regimes justify their entitlement to rule? Is legitimation necessary for non-democratic resilience? Despite the recent resurgence of scholarship on autocracy many questions remain unanswered about the role of legitimation in contemporary non-democracies and its relationship with neighbouring concepts like ideology, loyalty, censorship, and consent. Efforts to reincorporate legitimation into explanations of contemporary non-democratic rule are nascent but promising, and this workshop advances scholarship by considering papers that focus on concept formation, theory building, and empirical evidence across different subtypes of non-democratic regimes. Attention is given to establishing conditions under which different legitimation claims and practices bolster or undermine non-democratic rule.

Legitimation aims to secure active consent, compliance with the regime's rules, passive obedience, or toleration and resignation within the population. There are at least two major challenges to incorporating legitimation into the study of non-democratic regimes. First is the objection that legitimation is mere 'window dressing.' On this account, there is nothing substantive in the legitimation efforts of autocracies because they are epiphenomenal to the violence, coercion, or co-optation the regime is able to deploy. Second, even if it is agreed that legitimation is important to the maintenance of non-democratic rule, it is often argued that the conceptual and methodological difficulties associated with analysing it are insurmountable. These are important challenges to meet because understanding how, why, and with what effect non-democratic regimes aim to secure legitimation can illuminate numerous aspects of autocratic rule.

Paper List

Title Details
Classifying Non-Democracies: A Typology and a New Data-Set View Paper Details
Communist Rule in a Post-Communist World: Ideological Rigidity and Flexibility View Paper Details
From Cooptation to Exclusion: Chinese Communist Party’s Changing Strategies in Governing Independent Candidates in Direct Elections for Local People’s Congresses View Paper Details
Have your Cake and Eat it too: Manipulated Elections as Legitimation Strategy in Non-democratic Regimes View Paper Details
Inclusion and State Capacity in Authoritarian Regimes View Paper Details
Legitimacy and Legitimation in Arab Monarchies: Evidences form Jordan and Morocco View Paper Details
Legitimation Through Innovation - A Comparison of Innovation Policy in Brazil and Mexico View Paper Details
Measuring Legitimacy – New Trends, Old Shortcomings? View Paper Details
Outcome-Based Legitimation Strategies under Non-Democratic Rule. Re-Examining the ‘Electoral Authoritarianism’ Advantage Hypothesis View Paper Details
State Ideology and Patriotic Education in Belarus View Paper Details
Taking Addressees Seriously in the Study of Legitimation: Resilient Authoritarianism in Algeria During the Arab Uprisings View Paper Details
Talking the Talk of Regionalism: The Quest for International Legitimation in Southern Africa View Paper Details
The Electronic Face of Authoritarianism: Comparing E-Government as a Tool for Gaining Legitimacy in Competitive and Non-Competitive Regimes View Paper Details
Timing is Everything? Electoral Legitimation and Autocratic Stability in Singapore View Paper Details
Understanding Authoritarian Rule in Africa View Paper Details
Unpacking Authoritarian Legitimation Strategies: Findings from a New Expert Survey View Paper Details
What Makes Political Authority Legitimate? An Analysis of Ideas about Legitimacy in The Netherlands, France, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and China View Paper Details
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