Upper Left Quadrant Details Upper Right Quadrant Details Lower Left Quadrant Details Lower Right Quadrant Details Details



Legitimacy serves power by enlarging and stabilizing its domain. It empowers commands which are obeyed and actions performed without use of force.
The vertical axis is a continuum of power from the most informal to the most formalized. Whereas Weber defined legal-rational authority as the main form of legitimacy in complex capitalist and bureaucratic societies, the axis reminds us that there is a vast territory of legitimate power outside the direct influence of the legal system. Legality and legitimacy, while highly correlated, do not necessarily coincide. The horizontal axis captures the source of legitimacy. Religion on the left extreme indicates the sphere of the supra-empirical, that is belief in something which does not require evidence of its truth. Interest, on the opposite pole, designates the most rationally based beliefs, as an appeal to legitimacy based upon the results of a given governmental action.
The LLQ is the one where historically - and perhaps logically - legitimacy originates and does for a long time linger. This is the realm of traditional authority, mainly exercised by a person with some form of exceptional reputation - a king, a religious leader. By contrast, the secularization of power depends upon its capacity to impose (self )-interest as its legitimating force, one to be regulated through positive law, thus moving into the URQ, where law is essential but not self-validating. “Rule of law” depends upon processes by which laws are seen as byproducts of successful resolution of conflicting interests. The golden age of the legislature was the 19th century, and although it continues as a source of legitimation of control, it became only one of several sources of law, including administration, the return of the judiciary and plebiscite based on mass opinion and referenda. This draws us into the LRQ, the populist and most volatile source of legitimacy. Polling is the most recent institution of democracy, after people began to accept random sampling as a true measure of public opinion, with media as the main channel for its dissemination. In the ULQ, state refers to those historical cases, in both earlier Western and contemporary Middle-Eastern countries, where religion served as the main ideological apparatus for establishing a legitimate power. Note that law constitutes an important aspect of these authoritarian regimes, as it is a no less important dimension of the legitimizing process. This quadrant incorporates governments which work through laws in the modern sense but rely upon more traditional, even ancient forms of legitimacy (traditional Jewish, Muslim, Marxist, etc.).