Print version ISSN 0104-6276
SELIGSON, Mitchel A.; BOOTH, John A. and GOMEZ B., Miguel. Os contornos da cidadania crítica: explorando a legitimidade democrática. Opin. Publica [online]. 2006, vol.12, n.1, pp. 1-37. ISSN 0104-6276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-62762006000100001.
Recent steep declines in trust in government among the mass publics of institutionalized democracies have rekindled interest in legitimacy theory and research. Theorists have long conceived of political legitimacy as multidimensional, and argue that it ranges from abstract support for a political community underlying regime principles to the more concrete evaluation of regime performance, institutions, and actors. However, surprisingly little empirical research has evaluated the theory's construct validity. Employing a national sample survey from Costa Rican, a stable and successful democracy, we explore whether political legitimacy empirically exists and examine its structure. Using confirmatory factor analysis, we find evidence supporting the multidimensional structure of political support. We also identify certain limitations with both the theoretical and limited empirical research, related to misleading operationalization and the specification of empirical links that we fail to detect. We also find and remedy a surprising error of omission - that prior research overlooked local government as a target of legitimacy beliefs.
Keywords : political legitimacy; civic culture; democracy; trust.