A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Networks, Power, and the Effects of Legitimacy in Contentious Politics


Legitimacy is widely theorized as shaping the dynamics of contentious politics, fostering support and stability for those involved while imposing behavioral constraints. Yet, empirical research reveals wide variation in how these effects are realized in practice. We contend that divergences in legitimacy’s effects are tied in fundamental ways to the relationship between actors engaged in contentious politics and their audience(s). We develop a framework that highlights three conditions shaping the effects of legitimacy—legitimacy type, network balance, and structural dependence—and use a comparative analysis of dyadic relationships of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and Jemaah Islamiyah to illustrate how convergence and divergence in legitimacy’s effects are systematically structured by these conditions. Doing so advances scholarship on legitimacy in contentious politics by providing a basis for systematically comparing the effects of legitimacy across cases, situations, and historical contexts.

View Publication

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Schoon, Eric W., Alexandra Pocek Joosse, and H. Brinton Milward. 2020. "Networks, Power, and the Effects of Legitimacy in Contentious Politics." Sociological Perspectives (January). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0731121419896808

START Author(s):