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Which Decision-Making Arrangements Generate the Strongest Legitimacy Beliefs? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment

Journal article
Authors Peter Esaiasson
Mikael Gilljam
Mikael J Persson
Published in European Journal of Political Research
Volume 51
Issue 6
Pages 785-808
ISSN 1475-6765
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 785-808
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.2011...
Keywords democratic decision making; legitimacy beliefs; participatory constitution making; participatory democracy; procedural fairness; randomised field experiments
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Abstract

How can democracies satisfy citizens' demands for legitimate decision making? This article reports findings from a randomised field experiment designed to mimic decision making in large-scale democracies. Natural collectives of individuals with a shared history and future (high school classes) were studied. They were asked to make a decision about how to spend a sum of money under arrangements imposed by the researchers and distributed randomly across classes. Within this setting, empirical support for three ideas about legitimacy enhancing decision-making arrangements is tested: participatory constitution-making; personal involvement in the decision-making process; and fairness in the implementation of arrangements. Throughout the analyses it was found that personal involvement is the main factor generating legitimacy beliefs.

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