Theorizing the domestic legitimacy of using force

  • Yagil LevyEmail author
Original Article


The question of what constitutes the legitimacy of using force against an external adversary has become especially relevant since the wars that followed 9/11, and post-Cold War interventions in human crises. This article is conceptually motivated to bridging some of the scholarly gaps, mainly by developing a systematic methodological approach to analyzing how democratic governments try to establish domestic legitimacy for using force, defining that legitimacy and operationalizing it. Thereafter, it analyzes the two components of this legitimacy—the ingrained and the dynamic—and the interrelationships between them, thereby developing a framework for an empirical analysis of specific cases.


Collective action Deliberative democracy Militarization Public opinion 



This article was first presented at the meeting of the Research Committee on Armed Forces & Conflict Resolution of the International Sociological Association. I am grateful to the participants for their feedbacks. I would like to thank Bashir Bashir, Chiara Ruffa, David Rudin, Jennifer Welsh, Lars Christie, Martin Shaw, and the anonymous reviewer of International Politics for helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. I gratefully acknowledge permission from Stanford University Press to reproduce material published in my book Whose Life Is Worth More? Hierarchies of Risk and Death in Contemporary Wars (2019).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Political Science and CommunicationThe Open University of IsraelRaananaIsrael

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