The Basis of Legitimacy
The Definition, Conditions, and Types of"Imperative co-ordination" was defined above as
the probability that certain specific commands (or all
commands) from a given source will be obeyed by
a given group of persons. It thus does not include
every mode of exercising "power" or "influence"
over other persons. The motives of obedience to
commands in this sense can rest on considerations
varying over a wide range from case to case; all the
way from simple habituation to the most purely
rational calculation of advantage. A criterion of
every true relation of imperative control, however,
is a certain minimum of voluntary submission; thus
an interest (based on ulterior motives or genuine
acceptance) in obedience.Not every case of imperative co-ordination makes
use of economic means; still less does it always have
economic objectives. But normally (not always) the
imperative co-ordination of the action of a considerable number of men requires control of a staff of
persons. It is necessary, that is, that there should be
a relatively high probability that the action of a
definite, supposedly reliable group of persons will
be primarily oriented to the execution of the supreme
authority's general policy and specific commands.The members of the administrative staff may be
bound to obedience to their superior (or superiors)
by custom, by affectual ties, by a purely material
complex of interests, or by ideal (wertrational)
motives. Purely material interests and calculations
of advantage as the basis of solidarity between the
chief and his administrative staff result, in this as in
other connexions, in a relatively unstable situation.
Normally other elements, affectual and ideal, supplement such interests. In certain exceptional, temporary
cases the former may be alone decisive. In everyday
routine life these relationships, like others, are gov‐erned by custom and in addition, material calculation
of advantage. But these factors, custom and personal
advantage, purely affectual or ideal motives of solidarity, do not, even taken together, form a sufficiently reliable basis for a system of imperative
co-ordination. In addition there is normally a further
element, the belief in legitimacy.It is an induction from experience that no system
of authority voluntarily limits itself to the appeal to
material or affectual or ideal motives as a basis for
guaranteeing its continuance. In addition every such
system attempts to establish and to cultivate the
belief in its "legitimacy." But according to the kind
of legitimacy which is claimed, the type of obedience,
the kind of administrative staff developed to guarantee it, and the mode of exercising authority, will all
differ fundamentally. Equally fundamental is the
variation in effect. Hence, it is useful to classify the
types of authority according to the kind of claim
to legitimacy typically made by each. In doing this
it is best to start from modern and therefore more
|1. ||The choice of this rather than some other
basis of classification can only be justified by its
results. The fact that certain other typical criteria
of variation are thereby neglected for the time being
and can only be introduced at a later stage is not a
decisive difficulty. The "legitimacy" of a system of
authority has far more than a merely "ideal" significance, if only because it has very definite relations
to the legitimacy of property.|
|2. ||Not every "claim" which is protected by custom or by law should be spoken of as involving a
relation of authority. Otherwise the worker, in his
claim for fulfillment of the wage contract, would be
exercising "authority" over his employer because his
claim can, on occasion, be enforced by order of a
court. Actually his formal status is that of party to
a contractual relationship with his employer, in
which he has certain "rights" to receive payments.
At the same time the concept of a relation of
authority naturally does not exclude the possibility
that it has originated in a formally free contract. |
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Political Sociology:A Reader.
Contributors: S. N. Eisenstadt - Editor.
Publisher: Basic Books.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1971.
Page number: 41.
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