Political Mobilization: A Sociological Analysis of Methods and Concepts

By J. P. Nettl | Go to book overview
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Legitimacy, Mobilization and
Political Change in
Developing Countries


The bases of legitimation in developing countries, anchored in traditional forms of according legitimacy, are discussed and contrasted with the legitimacy of Western electoral systems. Traditional forms of legitimacy are characterized in terms of an analogy with the theatre; the relationship between rulers and ruled being presented as an actor‐ audience relationship. It is argued that although developmental nationalism is the specific product of an inheritance situation, the orientation towards legitimacy often continues in a more traditional style. Consequently there is a conflict between the value system and its goals on the one hand, and the methods of according legitimacy on the other.

In terms of mobilization the forms discussed in chapter 8 can be incorporated in a variable. This organizes the direction of mobilization from the top downwards, which is typical of the cases discussed in chapter 8, and from the bottom upwards-against or towards established authority which-England apart-represents the Western experience of political mobilization. This directional variable is called stalactite-stalagmite. It is applied to a discussion of the problem of change in developing societies, more particularly of the means available for making change possible in systems of traditional legitimacy.

Since electoral mobilization is a divisive influence whose structural crystallization is strongly de-emphasized in most developing countries, the two means of change available are reorientation by the rulers on the one hand, and coups on the other. These processes are examined at some length, both in terms of their form and their effectiveness. Change is analysed on two dimensions: the relative emphasis on one or other forms of internal mobilization discussed in


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Political Mobilization: A Sociological Analysis of Methods and Concepts


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