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Organizing consent: The role of procedural fairness in political trust and compliance

Journal article
Authors Marcia Grimes
Published in European Journal of Political Research
Volume 45
Issue 2
Pages 286-316
ISSN 0304-4130
Publication year 2006
Published at Center for Public Sector Research (CEFOS)
Department of Political Science
Pages 286-316
Language en
Subject categories Public Administration Studies


Political theory often attributes democratic legitimacy to the fairness of the processes by which collective decisions are taken; empirical research by contrast has primarily investigated whether citizens' approval of democratic institutions derives from satisfaction with the substantive output of those institutions. This article examines whether assessments of decision-making processes shape public willingness to consent to authority. The role of procedural fairness in institutional legitimacy has previously only been investigated in the context of the United States, and has fallen short of demonstrating that procedural assessments actually have a causal effect on institutional legitimacy. Panel survey data of attitudes in a large-scale land use issue provide the empirical base of the analysis. The results indicate that assessments of procedural fairness have a bearing on two conceptualizations of subjective legitimacy: respondents' trust for the authority and their willingness to accept a decision outcome.

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