Bases of Legitimacy

The actors may ascribe legitimacy to a social order by virtue of:

  1. tradition: valid is that which has always been;
  2. affectual, especially emotional, faith: valid is that which is newly revealed or exemplary;
  3. value-rational faith: valid is that which has been deduced as an absolute;
  4. positive enactment which is believed to be legal. Such legality may be treated as legitimate because:
    1. it derives from a voluntary agreement of the interested parties
    2. it is imposed by an authority which is held to be legitimate and therefore meets with compliance   (36)

Weber also sees this list as the basic sequence in which these types of orders evolved.  Sacredness of tradition is the oldest and most universal type of legitimacy, which was only broken at first due to prophetic oracles or other people believed to be sacred.  The purest type of value-rationality is natural law, where order is derived from (supposedly) naturally demonstrable truths. Legal order is the most common among modern nations today, although it coexists with other forms of order to some degree.

In theory then, the best of these to fit Twin Oaks would be that it is a voluntary agreement of the interested parties.  However, there is a large amount of order that one could consider to be traditional: what is valid is what has always been.  Try to change some fundamental part of any of the major formal systems, and there will be a significant conservative backlash, even if only a small minority opposes, and that is usually enough to stop the proposal.  This may have more to do with the institutional dynamics of the community though, which I’m sure will be discussed later.  The point here is that those making those arguments against change often rely more on the argument of tradition (“we’ve done it this was for decades,” “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” “you new people just don’t understand,” etc.).  I think this is pretty natural for any institution that’s not specifically and intentionally oriented to experimentation and innovation of its social forms.

Submission to an order is almost always determined by a variety of interests and by a mixture of adherence to tradition and belief in legality, unless it is a case of entirely new regulations.  In a very large proportion of cases, the actors subject to the order are of course not even aware how far it is a matter of custom, of convention, or of law.  In such cases the sociologist must attempt to formulate the typical basis of validity.  (37-38)

It would be interesting to go through community meeting notes, O&I paper comments, and mailbox letters at Twin Oaks to see if people (or certain groups of people) are making their arguments in particular ways to try to claim legitimacy.  (Or maybe just look at what is posted at the moment, for those of you who are still there.)  I can think of many long papers where all of these reasons were used to some extent.

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~ by Ethan Tupelo on 02014.08.24.

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