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The core of the term authoritarianism is a concept of authority, which signifies the exercise of legitimate influence by one social actor over another. In this entry, the legitimacy of this influence is considered from the point of view of both the transmitter and the receiver.

If authority is a term referring to legitimacy, in case of authoritarianism, the principle of submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action, is characterized by the unequal relationship of ruler to ruled and is based on power—the use of force—rather than on persuasion, open competition, and consent. Governments are the most important institutions of an authoritative social order, possessing a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force to compel obedience to their mandates in ...

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