MECHANISMS OF LEGITIMATION IN THE ANALYSIS OF THE WORLD-SYSTEM

THOMAS VINCENT MASSUCCI, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation explores the usefulness of the concepts of legitimacy and legitimation for analyzing and understanding the modern world-system. To do so, it devises, from a critical-theoretical perspective, a definition of legitimation which allows a possible application outside of its usual domestic setting. Then, within a descriptive framework synthesized from world-systems and international regimes literatures, the objective conditions for potential global legitimation problems are spelled out: the persistence of world-systemic asymmetries in wealth and power, and globally operative rules which produce or contribute to the production or maintenance of these asymmetries.^ Focusing on the post-war economic North-South regime, the dissertation then suggests the operation of four legitimation mechanisms: (a) regime institutionalization, (b) aid, (c) cold war ideology, (d) development/modernization theory. These forces are shown to affect the perceptions and values of Third World state elites. Importantly, however, these forces are also shown to be critically affected by their interaction with other forces operating at the world-systemic level, including state power, the unevenness of world economic development, and the interstate system. An analogy between this interaction and that put forward by Habermas in Legitimation Crisis (between political, economic and sociocultural subsystems in late capitalist societies) is proposed as a tentatively sound way of understanding the legitimation dynamic at the global level.^ Finally, this rough-cut model is applied to a seemingly clear cut case of the delegitimation of the post-war regime: Third World proposals for the forging of a New International Economic Order (NIEO). With regard to this specific historical phenomenon, this dissertation has concluded that the four legitimation mechanisms did make a difference, affecting not only Third World elites but American policy-makers as well. The links which were suggested earlier between political, economic and cultural subsystems are shown not only to be relevant in understanding the role of legitimation in the context of the NIEO. It is in addition suggested that they are important factors to be included when considering the possibilities for change in the world-system generally. Legitimation plays a role in the modern world-system which is roughly analogous to its role in late capitalist societies.^

Subject Area

International law

Recommended Citation

MASSUCCI, THOMAS VINCENT, "MECHANISMS OF LEGITIMATION IN THE ANALYSIS OF THE WORLD-SYSTEM" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8326688.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8326688

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