Narrative Legitimation: Exploring the variety of legitimacy claims in disputes of global governing

Frank Gadinger with Christopher Smith Ochoa and Taylan Yildiz (NRW School of Governance)

A fruitful debate in political science and sociology on the ‘politics of legitimation’ has started on how to study the production of legitimacy in the public interplay between justification and critique. Although legitimation strategies by political actors are considered within such debates now, the legitimacy-building effect of narrative practices still remain underexplored. The project suggests a conceptual framework that combines insights from pragmatic sociology (Luc Boltanski) and narratology (Albrecht Koschorke). First, the concept of ‘tests’ is used to categorize different kinds of legitimacy struggles in order to their reference points (truth, reality, existentiality). Second, the identification of three elementary practices (metaphorization, role construction, and emplotment) provides a methodological tool to explore the variety of narrative legitimation. The framework is currently adopted to study different narrative practices in the political controversy around the whistleblower Edward Snowden. The overall aim of the project is, however, to develop a broader framework, which can be applied to other policy fields as well.  

Keywords Narrative, Legitimation, Justification and Critique, Political Disputes, Surveillance, Pragmatic Sociology (Boltanski), Narratology (Koschorke)

Related publications

Gadinger, Frank/Smith Ochoa, Christopher/Yildiz Taylan (2019): Resistance or Thuggery? Political Narratives of Urban Riots, in: Narrative Culture 6:1, Special Issue: Political Narratives (edited by Stefan Groth), 88-111.

Yildiz, Taylan/Gadinger, Frank/Smith, Christopher (2018): Narrative Legitimierung. Exekutive, repräsentative und subversive Erzählstrategien in der Überwachungskontroverse, in: Leviathan - Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, 46:1, 135-162.

Gadinger, Frank, Jarzebski, Sebastian, and Yildiz, Taylan (2014): Politische Narrative. Konturen einer politikwissenschaftlichen Erzähltheorie, in: ibid. (eds.): Politische Narrative. Konzepte - Analysen - Forschungspraxis, Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 3–38.

Gadinger, Frank, Jarzebski, Sebastian, and Yildiz, Taylan (2014): Vom Diskurs zur Erzählung. Möglichkeiten einer politikiwissenschaftlichen Narrativanalyse, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift, 55(1), 67–93.