1st Edition

Justifying Dictatorship Studies in Autocratic Legitimation

Edited By Alexander Dukalskis, Johannes Gerschewski Copyright 2018
    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    How do dictatorships justify their rule and with what effects? This and similar questions guide the contributions to this edited volume. Despite the recent resurgence of political science scholarship on autocratic resilience, many questions remain unanswered about the role of legitimation in contemporary non-democracies and its relationship with neighbouring concepts, like ideology, censorship, and consent. The overarching thesis of this book is that autocratic legitimation has causal influence on numerous outcomes of interest in authoritarian politics. These outcomes include regime resilience, challenger-state interactions, the procedures and operations of elections, social service provision, and the texture of everyday life in autocracies. Researchers of autocratic politics will benefit from the rich contributions of this volume.

    The chapters in this book were originally published in a special issue of Contemporary Politics.

    1. What autocracies say (and what citizens hear): proposing four mechanisms of autocratic legitimation

    Alexander Dukalskis and Johannes Gerschewski

    2. The relevance of legitimation – a new framework for analysis

    Christian von Haldenwang

    3. Identity, procedures and performance: how authoritarian regimes legitimize their rule

    Christian von Soest and Julia Grauvogel

    4. What makes political authorities legitimate? Students’ ideas about legitimacy in five European democracies and hybrid regimes

    Honorata Mazepus

    5. Out of the shadows: autocratic regimes, election observation and legitimation

    Maria J. Debre and Lee Morgenbesser

    6. Social services to claim legitimacy: comparing autocracies’ performance

    Andrea Cassani


    Alexander Dukalskis, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin, Ireland. His work has been published in several journals, including Review of International Studies, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of Peace Research, International Studies Review, and Democratization. His book The Authoritarian Public Sphere was published in 2017.

    Johannes Gerschewski, Ph.D., is a Lecturer at Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. Previously, he was a Research Fellow at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). His work has been published or is forthcoming in, among others, Perspectives on Politics, Politische Vierteljahresschrift, and Democratization, which awarded him in 2013 with the Frank Cass Prize for Best Article by a Young Scholar.


    The 'third wave' assumption that only (liberal) democracy commands political legitimacy is well past its sell-by date.  'Justifying Dictatorship' offers much needed new perspectives on the highly topical theme of autocratic legitimation.

    Peter Burnell, Emeritus Professor, University of Warwick, UK.