CFP: ‘Legitimacy’ issue of Global Discourse

Call for Papers: ‘Legitimacy’

Global Discourse:
An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought

Volume 5: Issue 4:
December 2015

Guest editors:
Bronwyn Winter and Lucia Sorbera

Legitimacy, along with security and democracy, are arguably the most widely used global buzzwords of our new millennium. The term, which can variously mean lawful, authorised, accepted as conforming to agreed standards and practices, justified, reasonable and authentic—or all of these things at once—imparts significant moral clout to any social or political actor that is perceived to be characterised by it.
Whether we are talking about the so-called ‘War on Terror’, the Arab world uprisings and regime changes, the Global Financial Crisis or the rise of new powerful economies and polities such as India and China, the battle for legitimacy has characterized political discourse nationally and transnationally. Existing and new regimes have invoked legitimacy, often associated with either or both of security and democracy, to justify their actions, and oppositional civil society movements and groups have challenged those same claims to legitimacy.
The idea of political legitimacy is, however, not new and has been constructed in different ways at different moments in history. Moments of great upheaval or structural change have been significant in shifting meanings of legitimacy, such as during the passage from the Ancien Régime to the First Republic in France, or during debates over succession to the Prophet in the Islamic world. In more recent history, the battle for political legitimacy has gripped the Middle East and North Africa since well before the so-called ‘Arab spring’
started in Tunisia in December 2010. It has been waged, often violently, in countries as diverse as Algeria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Palestine (and indeed Israel) since at least the 1990s and in many cases earlier. It also gripped the West during the time of the Vietnam War and May 1968, for example.

State and non-state actors alike plead their own legitimacy and denounce the illegitimacy of their rivals. Legitimacy, once posited, is tacitly assumed to inhere in the action or institution so described and to need no further justification—or indeed, definition. Yet clearly, as the above examples show, what is legitimate for some will be illegitimate for others.

This issue of Global Discourse will problematise this notion of legitimacy, from various contextual, standpoint, disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. Why does the idea of legitimacy have such quasi-unimpeachable moral weight? Who is using the term, to what end, in what contexts? Within what logical, political, economic, cultural or ideological frameworks are actions deemed to be legitimate or illegitimate? How do factors such as gender, culture, religion and socioeconomic or geopolitical status impact on how legitimacy is determined? Can one ever speak of an absolute legitimacy or illegitimacy? Or is legitimacy always contextual and contingent?

Submission instructions and deadlines
Please submit all abstracts and papers by email to and
Deadlines for submissions for this issue are:
Abstracts of 500 words: September 1st 2014 Full articles, of around 8000 words, to be solicited on the basis of review of abstracts: December 31st 2014
Publication: September 2014 – all articles will appear as online firsts as soon as they are accepted and processed

Instructions for authors:

Further details:

Editor contact details: Bronwyn Winter and Lucia Sorbera

Journal Aims and Scope
Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The journal’s scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition.
Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues. The journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, shorter essays, rapid replies, discussion pieces and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author/s. With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse welcomes submissions from and on any region. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work. With a mix of themed and general issues, symposia are periodically deployed to examine topics as they emerge.

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