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Political LegitimacyNOMOS LXI$
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Jack Knight and Melissa Schwartzberg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479888696

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479888696.001.0001

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date: 27 January 2022

On the Empirical Measurement of Legitimacy

On the Empirical Measurement of Legitimacy

(p.293) 10 On the Empirical Measurement of Legitimacy
Political Legitimacy

Jeffrey A. Lenowitz

NYU Press

For decades, Tom Tyler had led the charge of making legitimacy and procedural justice core concepts and variables in the empirical study of compliance and cooperation in the social sciences. In this chapter, after laying out a conceptual map of the three types of legitimacy and the roles that procedures can play in legitimation, I show that much of Tyler’s work focuses on providing support for two assertions: that a belief in the legitimacy of local authorities leads people to comply, cooperate, and positively engage with them, and that fair procedures are a powerful way to make people develop these beliefs. I then argue that both of these claims are misleading. On the one hand, Tyler’s operationalization of legitimacy distorts it beyond common meaning. On the other hand, Tyler only measures and shows the effects of perceptions of procedural justice, and thus merely gives reason to focus on reforming institutions such that they appear just, rather than become just. The only way to avoid this unhappy Machiavellian outcome, I argue, is to once again bring in moral argumentation to discussions of institutional reform.

Keywords:   legitimacy, procedural justice, compliance, obedience

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