Fenja Søndergaard Møller

Does legitimacy matter for intrastate armed conflict?

Conflict scholars often mention the word “legitimacy”, but the concept rarely enters empirical conflict analyses. This dissertation contributes to the research agenda with studies concerning the effect of legitimacy on the risk of intrastate armed conflict. First, the dissertation discusses the concept of legitimacy. Legitimacy denotes the people’s perception of rulers as rightfully holding power. This understanding ensures a focus on injustice and highlights alternative causes of grievance directed at the rulers. Second, the dissertation outlines approaches to the measurement of legitimacy based on different data sources. The study shows that legitimacy is possible to measure and empirically investigate in relation to conflict. Third, the dissertation finds an empirical effect of legitimacy on intrastate armed conflict. For instance, legitimacy contributes to explaining puzzling cases of peace in today’s absolute monarchies. Thus, future research should acknowledge legitimacy as an important factor in relation to peace and conflict studies.

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