Fulvio Cammarano

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Delegitimization: A Useful Category for Political History

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Political History; Legitimization; Delegitimization; Max Weber.

Like its symmetrical opposite «legitimization», the term/concept «delegitimization» does not indicate a state or quality of a power relationship (for which we would talk of illegitimacy or legitimacy), but a process aiming to deny or withdraw recognition of the political opponent's legitimacy by representing him/her as extraneous to the shared constitutional perimeter. The article proposes to shift the issue of legitimization/delegitimization from a vertical power set-up (meaning command/obedience between the wielder of power and the subjects) to a horizontal frame of relationship and recognition among political leaders competing to govern a State. In this «horizontal» perspective delegitimization does not refer to groups that feel prejudicially opposite, or posit any absolute negation of values; it indicates an attempt to transform a legitimate adversary into an enemy.

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