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(2010) Russian politics from Lenin to Putin, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Building the communist future

legitimation and the Soviet city

Graeme Gill

pp. 76-100

One of the enduring questions of political science has been that of legitimation, of what gives a regime authority, or the right to rule in the eyes of its subjects. Most discussions of this question begin from Max Weber and his three ideal types — traditional, legal-rational and charismatic1 — but they often go beyond this typology and generate other categories of legitimation; procedural, electoral, nationalist, theocratic, and social eudaemonic are some of the modes of legitimation that scholars have at times identified when discussing communist systems.2 This question was particularly sharp during the life of the communist states because these regimes claimed a broadly-based popular legitimacy which did not sit easily with the overwhelming and largely unlimited power that they seemed to exercise. The meaninglessness of Soviet elections in terms of the fact that they were not mechanisms for holding governments accountable seemed to call into question the whole notion of popular legitimation.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230293144_4

Full citation:

Gill, G. (2010)., Building the communist future: legitimation and the Soviet city, in S. Fortescue (ed.), Russian politics from Lenin to Putin, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 76-100.

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