Focusing on media discourses, this article maps the communicative reproduction of legitimacy in Great Britain, the United States, Germany and Switzerland. It argues that political communication constitutes a distinctive dimension of legitimation that should be studied alongside public opinion and political behaviour. Research on legitimation discourses can help us understand why the legitimacy of established democracies remains stable in spite of the challenges of globalisation: Delegitimating communication tends to focus on relatively marginal political institutions, while the core regime principles of the democratic nation-state, which are deeply entrenched in the political cultures of Western countries, serve as anchors of legitimacy. These democratic principles also shape the normative benchmarks used to evaluate legitimacy, thus preventing a 'de-democratisation' of legitimation discourses. Finally, the short-lived nature of media interest as well as ritualistic legitimation practices shield the democratic nation-state from many potentially serious threats to its legitimacy.

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Journal European Journal of Political Research
Hurrelmann, A, Krell-LaluhovÁ, Z. (Zuzana), Nullmeier, F. (Frank), Schneider, S. (Steffen), & Wiesner, A. (Achim). (2009). Why the democratic nation-state is still legitimate: A study of media discourses. European Journal of Political Research, 48(4), 483–515. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6765.2009.00844.x