Rational Legitimacy: A Theory of Political Support

Rational Legitimacy: A Theory of Political Support

Ronald Rogowski
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 325
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Rational Legitimacy: A Theory of Political Support
    Book Description:

    This book confronts one of the central questions of political science: how people choose to accept or not to accept particular governments. In contrast to the prevailing view that citizens' decisions about the legitimacy of their governments are strongly conditioned by political culture and socialization and are hence largely non-rational, Ronald Rogowski argues that such decisions may indeed be the product of rational choice.

    The book proceeds both from recent work in the theory of voting and constitutional choice and from the older tradition of contract theory to postulate that decisions about legitimacy are really choices among alternative regimes. The author suggests that members of a society choose among these alternative regimes on the basis of a knowledge of ethnic and occupational divisions in their society. From these postulates a general theory is derived, which finds expression in numerous testable hypotheses.

    Originally published in 1974.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7090-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    R. R.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-34)

    What follows is a theoretical essay on a central question of political science: how people choose to accept or not to accept particular governments. It answers that question with two main theses: first, that people make political decisions, including even decisions about support for government,rationally,or at least act as if they did;¹ and, second, that the ethnic and occupational divisions of any society are the principal information on which its members would have to base a rational choice among forms of government.

    The theory as a whole can be supported or refuted only by its success, or lack...

  5. ONE The General Framework of Constitutional Choice: An Axiom, Terms, and Basic Notation
    (pp. 35-54)

    Axiom 1:People’s preferences among alternative governments, and their decisions to accept or to oppose existing governments, result from rational choice.

    Definition: A governmentwill be taken to mean any pattern of human interaction that

    (a) results in decisions that are asserted to be binding for some specific group of people;

    (b) has the reliable potential of enforcing these decisions by physical coercion;

    (c) has some known rule or pattern for the making of these decisions (hereafter to be called theconstitutional arrangementof the given government); and

    (d) is of unspecified duration, i.e., assumed for all practical purposes to...

  6. TWO Wholly Interchangeable Society
    (pp. 55-76)

    Insight often begins with extreme cases. Let us imagine a society all of whose members regard each other aswholly interchangeablein the performance of socially necessary tasks: that is, each is as able as any other to carry out any essential service or to supply any essential good.

    It follows at once that in such a society any proposed government that differed from the existing one only in respect of its assignment of individuals to specific social tasks would be viewed asequally as workableas the existing government (w(Gk, e)=w(G₁, e)),where G₁ is existing government...

  7. THREE Factionally Divided Society
    (pp. 77-142)

    Everything we were able to say about voting, majority rule, and the use of the lot in wholly interchangeable society, we must now recall, was said with one important reservation: that it would hold only in the absence of large and permanent factions.

    We cannot leave matters at this. Societies with such factions exist. It is important for us to see why (i.e., for what rational reasons) they might exist; to specify the conditions most conducive to their rise; and to say what constitutional arrangements, if any, could be legitimate in their presence. We shall deal specifically with the following...

  8. FOUR Segmented Society
    (pp. 143-197)

    Definition: In a stratified society, any faction that organizes all the members of a single stratum, or of any proper subset of the total set of strata, and no others, will be called asegment;and to the extent that a given society’s members are organized in segments, the society will be calledsegmented.

    Let us again begin our consideration with a simple and extreme example. Assume a society consisting entirely of diabetics; in it, the production of insulin is of course perceived by all as a socially indispensable task. But let this society consist of only two persons:A,...

  9. FIVE Mixed Social Systems and the Effects of Social Change
    (pp. 198-263)

    We have so far discussed only the relatively simple “pure” cases of interchangeable, pillarized, and segmented societies. (Each of these is depicted in Figure 1: the horizontal lines represent divisions of strata and the vertical lines, factional divisions.) Nothing, however, prevents combinations of elements of these different systems from appearing in real societies; and our task cannot be considered finished unless a way can be suggested to deal with such “mixed” forms.

    Definition: In any stratified society, any faction that organizes only members of a single stratum, or of any proper subset of the total set of strata, but that...

  10. CONCLUSION. Origins of Modern Patterns of Political Cleavage and Coalition
    (pp. 264-286)

    Although much has been said in the body of this essay about the factors that accelerate or retard the development of various kinds of factions, it remains to be shown in detail how the theory advanced here can account for variations in the patterns of political cleavage and coalition in complex—and, in the terms used above, generally “mixed”—societies of the present day. I shall attempt to sketch, by way of conclusion, some ways in which this approach might help in making finer distinctions and in analyzing the origins of the various patterns. That exercise necessarily involves a kind...

    (pp. 287-304)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 305-313)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 314-314)