One of the most important and at the same time most puzzling strands in the great web of society is that which constitutes the legitimacy of human relationships. It is this which makes the difference between the policeman and the bandit, the pretender and the king, the heretic and the orthodox, the bastard and the heir. Without legitimacy, no complex and continuing operation of social life is possible. Social relations become one-shot jobs, single acts of violence or even of exchange, without any continuing pattern. The struggle of rival systems of legitimation is by far the most important conflict in society, and the one with the most far-reaching consequences. The conflict of ideologies which seems so important in the world of today is only a special case of this much larger and continuing conflict of different ideas of legitimacy.
Boulding, Kenneth E.
"The Communication of Legitimacy,"
Perspectives (1969-1979): Vol. 6
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/perspectives/vol6/iss2/4