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The discursive legitimation of political regimes: A network perspective


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  • Haunss, Sebastian
  • Schneider, Steffen


In this working paper, we treat legitimacy and legitimation as interactive, discursive and relational concepts: Legitimacy is socially constructed in the public spheres of (democratic) political regimes, that is, in discursive exchanges of political elites and citizens about the acceptability of these regimes. Legitimacy claims and assessments establish a link between regimes and their institutions on the one hand, and normative benchmarks on the other. Hence they may be examined with the help of discourse network analysis - a novel application of network analysis whose rationale and potential are illustrated on the basis of a corpus of legitimation statements gleaned from German and US quality newspapers. Our method enables us to discover and visualize the structures of legitimation discourses - prominent speaker types, privileged legitimation criteria and discourse coalitions - and to offer some conjectures on the link between discourses and the institutional arrangements of the German and US polities. -- Dieses Arbeitspapier behandelt Legitimität und Legitimation als interaktive, diskursive und relationale Konzepte: Legitimität wird in den Öffentlichkeiten (demokratischer) politischer Regimes, also in einem diskursiven Austausch von politischen Eliten und Bürgern über die Akzeptabilität politischer Herrschaft, sozial konstruiert. In Legitimitätsbehauptungen und -bewertungen wird eine Verbindung zwischen Regimes und ihren Institutionen auf der einen und normativen Kriterien auf der anderen Seite hergestellt. Diese können mit Hilfe der Diskursnetzwerkanalyse untersucht werden; Logik und Potential dieser neuen Anwendung der Netzwerkanalyse werden auf der Basis eines Korpus von Legitimationsstatements aus deutschen und US-amerikanischen Qualitätszeitungen illustriert. Unsere Methode erlaubt es, die Strukturen von Legitimationsdiskursen - etwa prominente Sprechertypen, privilegierte Legitimationskriterien und Diskurskoalitionen - aufzudecken und zu visualisieren; daraus lassen sich schließlich auch Erkenntnisse über die Verbindung zwischen Diskursen und politischen Institutionenarrangements in Deutschland und den USA ableiten.

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Paper provided by University of Bremen, Collaborative Research Center 597: Transformations of the State in its series TranState Working Papers with number 177.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb597:177

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  1. Hurd, Ian, 1999. "Legitimacy and Authority in International Politics," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(02), pages 379-408, March.
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