Power, legitimacy, and order

Reus-Smit, Christian (2014) Power, legitimacy, and order. Chinese Journal of International Politics, 7 3: 341-359. doi:10.1093/cjip/pou035

Author Reus-Smit, Christian
Title Power, legitimacy, and order
Journal name Chinese Journal of International Politics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1750-8924
Publication date 2014
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/cjip/pou035
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 7
Issue 3
Start page 341
End page 359
Total pages 19
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Oxford University Press
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Legitimacy is not something distinct from power; it is one of the vital sources of power. And if power shapes the nature and development of international orders, then the politics of legitimacy features prominently in the construction, maintenance, and dissolution of such orders. This article begins by exploring the concepts of power and legitimacy, their theoretical interconnection, and the impact that crises of legitimacy have on the maintenance of political power. It then takes an empirical turn, examining, however briefly, two sites in which the politics of legitimacy had a profound effect on the development of the modern international order. The first concerns the globalization of the system of sovereign states, a four-century long process of imperial extension, crisis, and fragmentation into successor states, a process in which struggles over individual rights played a key role. The second concerns the definition and distribution of special responsibilities for managing functional challenges among states. In orders characterized by formal sovereign equality, on the one hand, and imbalances of material capabilities, on the other, a mechanism needs to be found for containing and harnessing power to meet the problems faced by the international community. Historically, this has been achieved through the allocation of special responsibilities to particular states, usually great powers. But if regimes of special responsibilities create patterns of more or less formal hierarchy among states, they are also sites of intense battles over legitimacy.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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