Measuring political legitimacy

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Marijn Meijering

Authors: M. S. Weatherford

Publication Year: 1992


Journal: American Political Science Review

Volume: 86

Issue: 1

Categories: Resilience


Political legitimacy is a key concept in both macro and micro theories. Pioneers in survey-based research on alienation and system support envisioned addressing macro questions about legitimacy with the sophisticated empiricism of individual-level methodology but failed; and a succession of innovations in item wording and questionnaire construction only led to an excessive concern with measurement issues at the individual level. I return to an enumeration of the informational requirements for assessing legitimacy in hopes of finding a conceptualization that better utilizes available survey indicators to tap relevant macro dimensions. I specify formal measurement models for both conventional and revised conceptualizations of legitimacy orientations and compare the fit of the two models systematically on data from the U.S. electorate. The revised model appears preferable on both theoretical and empirical grounds.


Marijn Meijering