A Legitimacy Crisis of Representative Democracy?

Jacques Thomassen, Carolien van Ham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter presents the research questions and outline of the book, providing a brief review of the state of the art of legitimacy research in established democracies, and discusses the recurring theme of crisis throughout this literature since the 1960s. It includes a discussion of the conceptualization and measurement of legitimacy, seeking to relate legitimacy to political support, and reflecting on how to evaluate empirical indicators: what symptoms indicate crisis? This chapter further explains the structure of the three main parts of the book. Part I evaluates in a systematic fashion the empirical evidence for legitimacy decline in established democracies; Part II reappraises the validity of theories of legitimacy decline; and Part II investigates what (new) explanations can account for differences in legitimacy between established democracies. The chapter concludes with a short description of the chapters included in the volume.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMyth and Reality of the Legitimacy Crisis
Subtitle of host publicationExplaining Trends and Cross-National Differences in Established Democracies
EditorsCarolien van Ham, Jacques Thomassen, Kees Aarts, Rudy Andeweg
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198793717
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2017


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