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The social legitimacy of international organisations: Interest representation, institutional performance, and confidence extrapolation in the United Nations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2015 (English)In: Review of International Studies, ISSN 0260-2105, E-ISSN 1469-9044, Vol. 41, no 3, 451-475 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social legitimacy is central to the effectiveness of international organisations (IOs). Yet, so far, we have little systematic knowledge about what drives citizens to support or oppose IOs. In this article, we isolate and assess three alternative explanations of social legiti- macy in global governance, privileging interest representation, institutional performance, and confidence extrapolation. We test these theories in a multilevel analysis of citizen confidence in the United Nations (UN) using World Values Survey and European Values Study data, sup- plemented by contextual measures. The results grant support to the arguments that institu- tional performance and confidence extrapolation shape popular confidence in the UN, while offering little support for the explanation of interest representation. These findings challenge the predominant understanding that more democratic procedures lead to greater social legitimacy for IOs. Instead, the UN case suggests that the social legitimacy of IOs is based primarily on the organisations’ capacity to deliver, as well as on citizens’ general confidence in political institutions, which IOs may have little to do with and can do little to change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 41, no 3, 451-475 p.
Keyword [en]
legitimacy, support, public opinion, international organizations, United Nations, UN, global governance
National Category
Globalization Studies
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110321DOI: 10.1017/S0260210514000230OAI: diva2:770569
EU, European Research Council, 200971DII
Available from: 2014-12-10 Created: 2014-12-10 Last updated: 2016-04-15Bibliographically approved

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Dellmuth, Lisa MariaTallberg, Jonas
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