State Legitimacy

This brief offers a concise introduction to the core elements of the concept of state legitimacy. It addresses four questions: How is the concept of legitimacy best understood? Why is it important? How do states accrue legitimacy? And what policy implications follow from this?
 
States are legitimate when citizens accept their right to rule over them. But legitimacy is also a political process of bringing order to social relations, and political actors are often central to it.
 
Legitimacy matters because without it there is likely to be conflict and disorder. All states need a degree of legitimacy to govern effectively.
 
Understanding when citizens are likely to confer or withdraw legitimacy requires investigating social norms. The depth and durability of a state’s legitimacy has direct effects on the feasibility of development processes, and on the effectiveness of external efforts to support them.

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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News

New article on how unfair service provision affects state legitimacy

Thursday 26th July 2018

Claire Mcloughlin's new open-access article in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding draws on the case of higher education in Sri Lanka. It explores how unfair service provision can undermine state legitimacy in divided societies.

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New studies on leadership for transformational change in Africa

Thursday 31st May 2018

A new series of studies asks what factors support or hinder leadership for transformational change in Africa. They are published in collaboration with the UONGOZI Institute.

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