Legitimating Identities: The Self-Presentations of Rulers by Rodney Barker

By Rodney Barker

From army despots to democratic presidents, rulers spend a lot time convincing themselves in their correct to be responsible. this significant and unique new survey attracts on a turning out to be physique of analysis in political technology, historical past, and sociology to bare how governments dedicate time, assets, and effort to cultivating their very own experience of who they're, now not for the convenience or persuasion of the general public, yet for his or her personal self-justification and esteem.

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His description has been heavily influential, but not pervasively so. ’  Joseph Bensman goes so far as to argue that ‘the self-justification that is the motivating drive for legitimacy is a particular expression of what for Weber was a deep, metaphysical need: the need for a rational meaning of the      Karl Deutsch, ‘The Commitment of National Legitimacy Symbols as a Verification Technique’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution ,  (September  ), –, p. . Thomas Luckman, ‘Comments on Legitimation’, Current Sociology ,  ( ),  – .

The principal way in which  David Beetham thus speaks of the legitimation of power, and though he discusses also the government of persons, his rational contractarian approach sits more easily with his discussion of systems. David Beetham, The Legitimation of Power (London, Macmillan,   ). Legitimating identities  people issuing commands are legitimated is by their being identified as special, marked by particular qualities, set apart from other people. When rulers legitimate themselves, they give an account of who they are, in writing, in images, in more or less ceremonial actions and practices.

As such they are as varied as expressions of loyalty or hostility, association or aversion in religion, or football, or opera. And whilst almost everyone believes theirs is the right answer to the question of why and when rulers should be obeyed, and I, like anyone else, have views about obligation, authority, politics, citizenship, and government, I am not setting out here to advance them. I deal with legitimation because it and the disputes over it are a central feature of government and politics, not because I am a participant in a debate about oughtness or obligation.

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