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Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2014 / No. 2

Ledyaev V. G., Ledyaeva O. M. Legitimacy and Force

(National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow),
(Moscow State University of Civil Engineering)

Abstract ♦ In the liberal tradition legitimacy (legal authority) is usually explained as an outcome of peoples free and rational choice. However, our analysis allows us to conclude that quite often formally voluntary submission to political authority is based on particular forms of force and/or coercion.

The role of coercion (threat of force) in the force-coercion continuum and hidden forms of power basing on the rule of anticipated reactions is increasing. This limits the subjects choice thereby decreasing the likelihood of alternative forms of social organization (regime) and enforcing the acceptance of the existing order through the increasing of costs and risks in case of a wrong choice. Therefore, political authority is accepted not (so much) as the outcome of free and rational choice, but as a result of the absence of real alternatives.

Thus, the process of legitimization of power (regime) in any society is extremely complex; in fact, there are quite different combinations and configurations of legitimacies, reflecting a wide spectrum of relations in modern society.

Keywords: legitimacy, political authority, power, force, coercion.

Ledyaev Valeri Georgievich, Doctor of Science (philosophy), PhD (University of Manchester, Department of Government), professor of the Department of Analysis of Social Institutions, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Postal address: 20 Myasnitskaya St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 101000. Tel.: +7 (499) 152-09-31. E-mail:

Ledyaeva Olga Mikhailovna, Candidate of Science (philosophy), associate professor of the Philosophy Department, Moscow State University of Civil Engineering. Postal address: 26 Yaroslavskoe shosse, Moscow, Russian Federation, 109263. Tel.: +7 (495) 183-24-10. E-mail:


Citation: Ledyaev V. G. and Ledyaeva O. M. (2014) Legitimacy and Force. Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, no. 2, pp. 1118. (Russ.).



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