Legitimation Functions and Legitimacy Resources

A typology for the analysis of post-Soviet countries, presented at the Joint Bavarian-Russian Conference on Interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bayreuth, 7-8 June 2018

Recent studies of legitimation patterns in authoritarian and democratic regimes have used a variety of classifications. Reviewing these approaches, I presented an integrative typology of legitimation functions and legitimacy resources based on David Beetham’s concept of political legitimacy.  According to Beetham, the legitimate exercise of power must conform to established rules, the rules need to be justifiable by reference to shared beliefs, and the given relations of power require the express consent of subordinates. read more

Prospects of a Dialogue on Kosovo

Interview with Aleksandra Nenadović, Voice of America, 26 July 2017

On 24 July 2017 Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić called for an “internal dialogue” on Kosovo. His article triggered an intense public debate and a large media echo within and beyond Serbia because he urged his fellow-citizens to face reality and stop waiting to be given “what we have lost a long time ago”.  Serbia should cease to preserve “a conflict whose meaning we do not understand” and should rather resolve the “Kosovo (Gordian) knot” in a responsible and non-violent way. read more

Politics and Religion in Eastern Europe

An interview with Magda Crișan, Romanian TV program Digi24, 11 May 2016

Political elites in East European countries have often referred to religious beliefs or sought to form alliances with church leaders. One aim of their efforts has been to convince citizens and the public that they share common values and are committed to act ethically responsibly.

Putin_KyrillMore frequent references and appeals to shared religious beliefs in recent years reflect the growth of right-wing populism, uncertainties caused by the crisis of European integration and fears regarding the inflow of predominantly Muslim refugees. The extent to which religious references are made in political discourses also varies according to the strength of religious allegiances and the respective influence of churches in societies. Contemporary resonance structures are rooted in state identities and the influences of historical state-building coalitions with churches. read more

Politische Legitimität

Politische Legitimität in der sozialwissenschaftlichen Diskussion und als Herrschaftsressource im postsowjetischen Raum.

Gutachten für das Zentrum für Internationale und Osteuropastudien

Ziel der Studie ist es, den Stand der sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung zu politischer Legitimität zusammenzufassen und zu analysieren, inwieweit Legitimationsstrategien politischer Eliten und Legitimitätsauffassungen in der Bevölkerung zur Stabilisierung politischer Regime in postsowjetischen Staaten beitragen. Die Studie ist in sechs Abschnitte gegliedert. read more

Politics and Legitimacy in Post-Soviet Eurasia

New Publication

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Political legitimacy has become a scarce resource in Russia and other post-Soviet states in Eurasia. Their capacity to deliver prosperity has suffered from economic crisis, the conflict in Ukraine and the ensuing confrontation with the West. Will nationalism and repression enable political regimes to survive?

This book investigates the politics of legitimation in post-Soviet countries, focusing on how political and intellectual elites exploit different modes of legitimation. Combining cross-national comparisons and country case studies, it addresses state-economy relations, pro-presidential parties, courts, ideas of nationhood, historical and literary narratives. read more

Back to the Future?

Retrograde Modernization in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region

A Cross-Disciplinary Conference Organized by KomPost and the German Association for East European Studies (DGO), Berlin 23-24 October 2015

Levels of economic development, income and education provide a firm structural basis for democracy in Russia. However, an authoritarian model of government has prevailed and has even taken stronger hold of society in recent years. This trend is all the more puzzling since the political leadership has been less able to rely on economic growth to legitimize its rule. Governing elites are essentially confined to symbolic resources of legitimacy, such as historical grievances, threat perceptions, notions of exceptionalism and imperial identity. read more

Symbolische Orientierungsleistungen und -erwartungen in postsowjetischen Gesellschaften

Workshop des Kompetenznetzes  „Institutionen und institutioneller Wandel im Postsozialismus“, München 21.-22.11.2014

Empirische Studien zur Politischen Kultur in Russland und anderen postsowjetischen Staaten haben beobachtet, dass politische Meinungen und Präferenzen stärker durch Wertvorstellungen geleitet werden als durch persönliche Alltagserfahrungen oder ökonomische Interessen. Dieses Phänomen wurde damit erklärt, dass viele Bürger/-innen die materiellen Konsequenzen ihrer Wahlentscheidungen nicht antizipieren können, da keine politischen Parteien mit kohärenten Programmen und klaren Handlungsalternativen existieren. Stattdessen dominiere die Polarität von Staatsmacht und Opposition. Nach dem Ende des staatssozialistischen Systems herrsche große Unsicherheit über gesellschaftliche und politische sowie nationale und moralische Leitbilder; zudem sei die politische Agenda durch Grundsatzfragen statt durch inkrementale Adjustierungen wie in den westlichen Demokratien geprägt. read more

Authoritarian Governance in Eurasia: the Creation and Contestation of Institutional Legitimacy

Conference of the project network “Institutions and Institutional Change in Postsocialism”, 28-30 November 2013, Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung, and Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich

Eurasian states hold regular elections, but few political regimes in the region meet democratic standards. Non-democratic arrangements of governance have emerged and persisted despite the ‘color revolutions’ and their challenge to incumbents manipulating elections. This situation has generated significant scholarly interest and has resulted in a growing number of studies examining the sources of authoritarian stability. However, this field of research in the social sciences has hitherto been dominated by instrumentalist views of institutions that emphasize the engineering of institutions by utility-maximizing political actors. Institutions are sets of rules structuring interactions, but they are also defined by their legitimatory functions that are embedded in shared historical and cultural understandings. Due to this embeddedness, authoritarian rulers may not create political institutions at will. Rather, political elites depend on their ideational abilities to communicate their actions as meeting expectations of appropriateness. These abilities enable and constrain actors’ use of available frames, discourses, traditions, norms and practices in order to confer legitimacy on the institutions they seek to reform and build. read more