De-Constructing Legitimacy with a Special Reference to the Panchayati Raj System in India

  • Kai Fürstenberg (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Legitimacy is a central phenomenon in the realm of every organised society. Its existence is pivotal for the continued existence of structures of governance and political institutions like administrations and legal systems. The legitimation of a political system, or any other social system, is necessary to keep it alive without the use of force. A wide range of hypotheses exists which define legitimacy and try to explain how legitimation is produced by institutions, respectively lent by the subjects of institutions. The evaluation of hypotheses touches on different disciplines, ranging from economics, sociology and political science to psychology, and their various theoretical approaches, from rational choice via cultural theories and organisational studies to behavioural sciences. In this, essay I want to give an overview about the current academic discourse, concentrating on the most prominent and influential works. The paper presents several definitions of what legitimacy entails and how systems and institutions gain legitimacy. Following this review of the academic discourse this essay evaluates the working hypotheses against the backdrop of a particularly interesting empirical case: The case of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI), the local government system in India.


India, Legitimacy, Political Institutions, Panchayati Raj