In all societies, governing involves the exercise of power by some individuals or groups over others. However, governing simply via the use of or threat to use power is unwieldy, inefficient, and often ineffective. To perform effectively, authorities need to convince most of the people over whom they exercise authority that they should voluntarily defer to their decisions and rules. They must be able to secure widespread consent from their subordinates. For subordinates voluntarily to defer, they must feel that those who are governing deserve their authority. This need for a justification for the exercise of authority is central to all systems of government and of law. Scholars refer to it as the legitimation of authority.

Legitimation can potentially involve developing a justification for those who ...

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