Quote of the Day: Legitimacy and Domination Edition

Norms become legitimate when the actors view them as right, proper, and appropriate. Temperance norms are legitimate to the members of the Temperance movement. To many nonabstainers they may be illegitimate. Domination rests on the power, prestige, authority of one person, group, or official over another. The content of the norm may be disapproved but, as in the case of the duelers, the nonbeliever recognizes its force. The individual may accept a given authority as legitimate even though a specific norm enunciated by that authority represents domination, that is, is not morally approved of by the subordinate. An institution may be dominated by norms which some group or person does not share. For example, the norms of patriotic commitment are dominant in the school system. Patriotic rites are performed and patriotism is taught as a revered and appropriate set of attitudes. Patriotism is dominant in American schools. The nonpatriot may disapprove of this; he may organize to influence changes; he may even withdraw his child from the school. One thing he cannot sanely do. He cannot act as if his norms were binding in the schools. A system of domination may rest upon legitimacy in some areas of the society but not in others. What is essential to the fact of orderly and recurrent behavior is the recognition in all areas that one set of norms and not its alternative is likely to prevail. It is not a question of whose ox is gored but of who holds the plow.

Joseph Gusfield, Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement, pp. 64-65.

Reminds me of the guy who a few weeks back argued that the US government didn’t have jurisdiction over him, since he was a sovereign nation (can’t find a link, sorry).

One Response

  1. […] I’m reminded of this quote from Joseph Gusfield: […]

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