Legitimacy and Global Governance

Centre Researchers Contribute to Leading Book Series

Researchers from the Käte Hamburger Kolleg have made significant contributions to a new book series aiming to present the ‘combined theoretical, methodological, empirical, and policy takeaways’ generated throughout the six year Legitimacy in Global Governance (LegGov) program.

Centre Co-Director Jan Aart Scholte served as both series co-editor and contributing author (Citizens, Elites, and the Legitimacy of Global Governance). Fellows Soetkin Verhaegen and Nora Stappert also co-authored chapters in Legitimation and Delegitimation in Global Governance as well as Citizens, Elites, and the Legitimacy of Global Governance. Fariborz Zelli, an Alumni Fellow of the Centre, co-authored the third book in the series, Global Legitimacy Crises: Decline and Revival in Multilateral Governance. Below we present short descriptions of each of the volumes, which have been obtained through the publisher, Oxford University Press. Please follow the links on this page to access the texts, which are available open access through a creative commons license.

The legitimacy of global governance institutions is both contested and defended in contemporary global politics. Legitimation and Delegitimation in Global Governance explores processes of legitimation and delegitimation of such institutions. How, why, and with what impact on audiences, are global governance institutions legitimated and delegitimated? The book develops a comprehensive theoretical framework for studying processes of (de)legitimation in governance beyond the state. It provides broad comparative analyses to uncover previously unexplored patterns of (de)legitimation processes. A diverse set of global and regional governmental and nongovernmental institutions in different policy fields are included. Variation across these institutions is explained with reference to institutional set-up, policy field characteristics, and broader social structures, as well as to the qualities of agents of (de)legitimation. The approach builds on a mixed-methods research design that uses quantitative and qualitative new empirical data. Three main interlinked elements of processes of legitimation and delegitimation are at the center of the analysis: the varied practices employed by different agents that may boost or challenge the legitimacy of institutions; the normative justifications that these agents draw on when engaging in legitimation and delegitimation practices; and the different audiences that may be impacted by legitimation and delegitimation. This results in a dynamic interplay between legitimation and delegitimation in contestation over the legitimacy of GGIs.

Citizens, Elites, and the Legitimacy of Global Governance offers the first full comparative study of citizen and elite legitimacy beliefs toward global governance. Empirically, it provides a comprehensive analysis of public and elite opinion toward global governance, building on two uniquely coordinated surveys covering multiple countries and international organizations. Theoretically, it develops an individual-level approach, exploring how a person's characteristics in respect of socioeconomic status, political values, geographical identification, and institutional trust shape legitimacy beliefs toward global governance. The book's central findings are three-fold. First, there is a notable and general elite-citizen gap in legitimacy beliefs toward global governance. While elites on average hold moderately high levels of legitimacy toward international organizations, the general public is decidedly more skeptical. Second, individual-level differences in interests, values, identities, and trust dispositions provide significant drivers of citizen and elite legitimacy beliefs toward global governance, as well as the gap between them. Most important on the whole are differences in the extent to which citizens and elites trust domestic political institutions, which systematically shape how they assess the legitimacy of international organizations. Third, both patterns and sources of citizen and elite legitimacy beliefs vary across organizations and countries. These variations suggest that institutional and societal contexts condition attitudes toward global governance. The book's findings shed important light on future opportunities and constraints in international cooperation, suggesting that current levels of legitimacy point neither to a general crisis of global governance nor to a general readiness for its expansion.

Global Legitimacy Crises addresses the consequences of legitimacy in global governance, in particular asking: when and how do legitimacy crises affect international organizations and their capacity to rule. The book starts with a new conceptualization of legitimacy crisis that looks at public challenges from a variety of actors. Based on this conceptualization, it applies a mixed-methods approach to identify and examine legitimacy crises, starting with a quantitative analysis of mass media data on challenges of a sample of 32 IOs. It shows that some, but not all organizations have experienced legitimacy crises, spread over several decades from 1985 to 2020. Following this, the book presents a qualitative study to further examine legitimacy crises of two selected case studies: the WTO and the UNFCCC. Whereas earlier research assumed that legitimacy crises have negative consequences, the book introduces a theoretical framework that privileges the activation inherent in a legitimacy crisis. It holds that this activation may not only harm an IO, but could also strengthen it, in terms of its material, institutional, and decision-making capacity. The following statistical analysis shows that whether a crisis has predominantly negative or positive effects depends on a variety of factors. These include the specific audience whose challenges define a certain crisis, and several institutional properties of the targeted organization. The ensuing in-depth analysis of the WTO and the UNFCCC further reveals how legitimacy crises and both positive and negative consequences are interlinked, and that effects of crises are sometimes even visible beyond the organizational borders.

Bexell, Magdalena, Jönsson, Kristina and Uhlin, Anders (2022)(eds). Legitimation and Delegitimation in Global Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dellmuth, Lisa, Scholte, Jan Aart, Tallberg, Jonas and Verhaegen, Soektin (2022). Citizens, Elites, and the Legitimacy of Global Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sommerer, Thomas, Agné, Hans, Zelli, Fariborz and Bes, Bart (2022). Global Legitimacy Crises: Decline and Revival in Multilateral Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Legitimacy and Global Governance Book Series

From Series Editors Jonas Tallberg, Karin Bäckstrand, and Jan Aart Scholte:

'Legitimacy appears crucial if global governance is to deliver on many key challenges confronting contemporary society: climate change, economic development, health pandemics, and more. Yet current trends suggest that the legitimacy of global governance may be increasingly contested. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, disillusionment with United Nations climate negotiations, pushback against the World Health Organization’s handling of COVID-19, and the general rise of anti-globalist populism all signal substantial discontent with global governance institutions. An important research agenda therefore arises concerning legitimacy, legitimation, and contestation in global governance.

This book series seeks to advance that agenda. The three volumes explore to what degree, why, how, and with what consequences global governance institutions are regarded as legitimate. The books address this question through three complementary themes: (1) sources of legitimacy for global governance institutions; (2) processes of legitimation and delegitimation around global governance institutions; and (3) consequences of legitimacy for the operations of global governance institutions. The series presents the combined theoretical, methodological, empirical, and policy takeaways of the Legitimacy in Global Governance (LegGov) program. LegGov was a six-year endeavor (2016–21) involving 16 researchers at Stockholm, Lund, and Gothenburg Universities. The program was funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and coordinated by Jonas Tallberg at Stockholm University. LegGov has previously published the volume Legitimacy in Global Governance: Sources, Processes, and Consequences with Oxford University Press in 2018. Whereas that work set out LegGov’s agenda and strategy, this series presents the program’s extensive findings in three integrated books'.