Emory University
Department of Sociology


Abstract: Creating Legitimacy: The Interrelated Roles of Justice and Trust 

Despite sometimes nuanced conceptual differences in approaches to legitimacy, most scholars would agree that whatever is legitimated (an authority, a rule, a distribution) carries with it an obligation to obey (without the threat of negative sanctions or enticement of positive ones). Unsurprisingly, then, it is in the interest of people, authorities in particular, to secure legitimacy of their own position, rules, or practices. Drawing from the social psychological literature, this paper focuses on identity- and resource-based models of how justice processes facilitate the creation of legitimacy. Those models, however, only scratch the surface in examining the multifaceted role of trust in solidifying collective sources of legitimacy. To explicate the interrelated roles of justice and trust additionally requires consideration of the impact of interpersonal and organizational conditions on the development of legitimacy of authorities.  

Biographical Sketch:

Karen A. Hegtvedt is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Emory University and editor of Social Psychology Quarterly. Trained as a social psychologist, her research focuses on justice, legitimacy, and emotions. Along with her collaborator, Cathryn Johnson, recent research projects examine the effects of legitimacy on perceptions of and responses to distributive injustice. Currently, they are focusing on the combined impact of environmental identity and the perceived legitimacy of university sustainability efforts on students’ environmental citizenship. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. She has edited a special volume of Advances in Group Processes, focusing on social psychological approaches to justice, and has published in various journal and edited volumes. 

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